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Well acquainted in days gone by with the Shores and 
Islands of Lough Corrib and Lough Mask, I ,was not 
a little surprised, when returning there a few years ago, 
to find that, notwithstanding its perfect accessibility, 
this interesting district was comparatively unknown 
to tourists, and the true character and history of its 
monuments were neither appreciated nor understood 
by its inhabitants. 

In the hope of removing, in part at least, some of 
those deficiencies, and as a pleasing occupation during 
leisure hours, I have written this book, for several of 
the illustrations in which my readers are indebted to 
the liberality of the late Sir Benjamin L. Guinness, Bart,, 
to whom, and to the various other friends in the AVest, 



of all classes, who have promptly afforded such informa- 
tion and assistance as I required, I beg to return my 
best thanks. 

I had intended appending some notes on the 
zoology and popular legends, &c., of the district ; 
but subjects of so much more general and popular 
interest have crowded upon me since the publication 
of the first edition, that I am again compelled to 
apologise for the Appendix, the subject matter of 
which I hope to bring out on a future occasion. 

1, Merrion-Square, Dublin, 
January 1, 1872. 


CHAPTER I.— Introductory. 

Character of* the Scenery of the West. Objects of the Tour, and special 
Subjects of Interest. .Route from Dublin to Gal way. An Hour's 
Ramble through "The City of the Tribes." Its Celebrities, Name, and 
History. The River Gallieve, and Lady Gallvea. Plan of the Ex- 
cursion. Hotels and Conveyances, , 1 

CHAPTER II. — Description op Lough Corrib. 

Lough Corrib : its Direction, Name, Extent ; Ancient Territories adjoin- 
ing ; Sources, Rivers, Turloughs ; Division ; Knockmagh ; Scenery and 
Mountains surrounding Lake ; Geology, Mines, Natural "Woods ; Drain- 
age ; Navigation, the Eglinton Canal ; Outlets, the Friars' Cut, ... IS 

CHAPTER III; — Galtvay to Annaghdotvx. 

Parish of St. Nicholas. Terrilan Castle. Annals of Gal way. The De 
Burgos. Menlough. Parish of Oranmore. The Lower Lake. Clare- 
Galway Parish, Castle, and Convent Church. Ancient Ploughs. Knock- 
natuath ; the Battle of the Chieftains ; the Irish against the Irish ; 
the Book of Howth ; the Engagement, and the Rout. Cregg Castle; 
Athcloiggeen ; the Hag's Castle, 39 

CHAPTER IV. — Annaghdown to Kylebeg. 

Annaghdown Parish, and Ancient Bishopric ; St. Brendan. The Desmond 
and O'Donnell Costume. The Monastery and Abbey. Ancient Tombs. 
The Nunnery. Window of Modern Church. The Cloichtheach of 



Annaghdown. The Castle and Holy Wells. Castle Creevy. Kilcoona 
Parish ; Church, and Round Tower. History and Writings of St. Coona. 
Parish of Killeany. Cloch-an-Uaibher Castle. Lee's Island. Knock 
Ferry and Kylebeg, 63 

CHAPTER V. — Kylebeg to Inchiqtjin. 

Cargin Parish. Church and Castle. Killeens. Iniscreawa. Annals of 
Lough Corrib. Irish Pagan and Christian Architecture. Cahergal. 
Clydagh. Killursa Parish. History of St. Fursa. Inchiquin. Castle 
of Annakeen. Cairns. Giants' Graves. Church of St. Fursa. Early 
Irish Church Architecture. Ross-Errilly. The Locust Plague. Moyne 
Castle. The Black River, S7 

CHAPTER VI. — Inchiquin to Inchangoill and Cong. 

County of Mayo. The Islands of Lough Corrib. Inishanboe. Parish of 
Shrule. Ballycurrin, Ballisahiney, and Moceara Castles. Forts. Pa- 
rish of Cong. Inchangoill. St. Patrick's and the Saint's Churches. 
Stone of Lugnaedon. South-east border of Cong Parish. Castletown. 
Inchruicatreer. Cross. Ancient Churches of Kilfraughaun and Killar- 
sagh. Moytura. Lackafinna. Lisloughry. Cong Islands. Kinlough. 
Ashford. Strand Hill. Cong, 128 


Cong Village. Rivers. Annals. St. Fechin. The Abbey, and its History. 
The O'Duffys. Ireland's last Monarch. Ashford. The Street Cross. 
The Irish Language. Reliques ; the True Cross ; the Tooth of St. Pa- 
trick. The Black Bell. Wayside Monuments. The Castle of Augha- 
lard. Caves. The Pigeon Hole, 161 

CHAPTER VIII. — The Battle and Battle-field of Moytura. 

The Primitive Irishman. Fomorians. Partholan. Nemeth. The Firbolgs. 
Tuatha de Danaan. The Plain of Moytura. Knockma. Ceasair. Kings 
Eochy and Nuadh. The Battle-field. The Warriors, Druids, and Phy- 
sicians. Existiug Monuments ; Cairns, Caves, Cahers, Stone Circles, and 


Pillars. The Four Days' Fight. The Meane Uisge. Sepulchral Urn. 
Standing Stones at Inishowen. The Dagda and the Fathach. Nymphs- 
field Monuments. Caher Mac Turc. Belor of the Magic Eye. The 
Neale Monuments. The Hill of Cam. Caher Eobert. History of the 
Moytura Manuscript, 210 

CHAPTER IX.— Lough Mask. 

Parish of Ballinchalla. Lough Mask Castle. Edmond de Burgo. Inish- 
main. Eogan-Beil and St. Cormac. Inishmain Abbey. Ancient Fort. 
The Penitentiary. Inishowen. The Hag's Castle. Boss Hill. St. Pa- 
trick's Church. Upper Lough Corrib. Doon and Castle Kirk. St. Fe- 
chen's and St. Enna's Wells. Caislean na Kirka. Maam, 249 

CHAPTEB X.— Maam to Galway. 

Parish of Kilcummin. Oughterard. Lemonfield. Gnomore and Gnobeg. 
Killeroon Church. Aughnanure Castle. Killannin Parish. Lough Na- 
neevin. Kilbrecan. Boss Lake, Castle, and Churches. The Fossil 
"Wood. Teampul-beg-na-Neave. Moycullen Parish, and its Churches. 
The Battle Stone. Danesfield. Bahoon Parish. Conclusion, . . . 278 


No. Name. Dra'wn by. 

1 Terrilan Castle, Wakeman, 

2. Menlough Castle, ,, 

3. Clare-Galway Abbey, .... ,, 

4. ,, „ Ploughs, .... Rogers, . 

5. Tollokyan Castle, Wakeman, 

6. Annaghdown Ruins, ,, 

7 „ Tomb, „ 

8 „ Church Window, . Photograph, 
9. „ Window Ornament, Wakeman, 

10. ,, Castle, .... ,, 

11. Kileoona Round Tower. . . . Photograph, 

12. Cargin Castle, Miss E. L. Staunton, 

13. Inniscreawa, ,. 

14. Cahergal Fort, Wakeman, 

15. „ Steps, „ 

16. Clydagl Photograph. 

17. Annakcen Castle, ,, 

18. Ross-Knilly Wakeman, 

10. D'Arcy's Cottage, Photograph, 

20. Ballycurrin Castle ». "W ikeman, 

21. Inchangoill, Lugnaedon's Stone, 

„ Inscription, ... „ 

Engraved by. 


Oldham, . . 



. 45 




. 53 

55 • 


Oldham, . . 






,5 • 








» * 




•' • • 










.. . . 




Oldham, . . 






Drawn by. 

Engraved by. 



Inchangoill, St. Patrick's Church, Photograph, . Oldham, . . 

. 142 


„ Saints' Church, . . "Wakeman, 


. 143 


„ Bearded Capitals, 





,, Choir Arch, . . 

. Photograph, 




„ Greek Cross, 

. "Wakeman, 


. 147 


Cross Castle and Church, 





East "Window of do., 





Kilfraughaun Doorway, 

• >i 




Killarsagh "Window, 





Moytura House, . . . 





Cong River, and Ashford, 





,, The Bullaun Stone, 


,, . 



„ Abbey, .... 

S. Lover, 




,, Terminal Cross, . 


,, . 



„ 0' Duffy's Cross, . . 


Shepherd, . . 



,, Inscription on do., 





Moytura Cross, . . . 


,, . 



Facade of Cong Abbey, . 


Oldham, . . 



Ashford House, . . . 


ii . . . 



Market Cross of Cong, . 





The True Cross, . . . 

Du Noyer, . 

Hanlon, . . 



Inscription on do., . . 


Oldham, . . 



The Black Bell, . . . 

ii • 

A. Oldham, . 



"Wayside Monuments, . . 

Fairholt, . . 

Electrotype, . 



Aughalard Castle, . . . 

"Wakeman, . 




Plan of Kildun Cave, 

M'Donagh, . 

A. Oldham, . 



,, Cooslogha Cave, 





Cooslogha Cave, interior, 

"Wakeman, . 

Shepherd, . . 



Cairn of the Hurlers, 





,, of First Day's Battle, 





The One Man's Cairn, . . 


Oldham, . . 




No. Name. Drawn by. 

54. Sepulchral Urn, . . . ' . . . "Wakeman, 

55. The Flagstones of Caelchu, . . ,, 

56. Caher-Speenaun, „ 

57. Nymphsfield Circle, W. Wilde, 

58. ,, „ Wakeman, 

59. Long Stone of The Neale, ... ,, 

60. Neale Inscription, Rubbing, . 

61. Eochy's Cairn, Wakeman, 

62. Lough Mask Castle, .... Rubbing, . 

63. Inishmain, Doorway in, . . . Wakeman, 

64. „ Abbey, „ 

65. ,, Capital of Pillar, . . ,, 

66. King Beil's Fort, „ 

67. The Penitentiary, ,, 

68. ,, Interior, . . Rogers, . 

69. The Hag's Castle, W. Wilde, 

70. Dun Aengus, . \ . . . . . . Cheyne, . 

71. The Hen's Castle, Wakeman, 

72. Lemonfield, ,, 

73. Aughnanure Castle, ,, 

74. „ Window, .... ,, 

75. St. Annin's Church, R. Willis, 

76. The Fossil Yew, Kinahan, . 

Engraved by. 


Mrs. Millard 

. 225 


. 228 

Oldham, . 

. 230 


. 234 


. 237 

Oldham, . 

. 240 


. 241 


. 243 


. 250 

Miss Keely, 

. 254 

Oldham, . 

. 255 


. 256 


. 257 


. 258 

Oldham, . . 

. 259 


. 261 

Oldham, . 

. . 265 


. 271 


. 282 

Oldham, . 

. . 288 


. . 290 

Oldham, . 

. 296 


. . 299 





Westward, ho ! Let us rise with the sun, and be off to the 
land of the West — to the lakes and streams — the grassy- 
glens and fern-clad gorges — the bluff hills and rugged moun- 
tains — now cloud-capped, then revealed in azure, or bronzed 
by evening's tints, as the light of day sinks into the bold 
swell of the Atlantic, and leaves his reflection in long level 
streaks of crimson, green, and orange, among the greyish- 
purple robe of twilight, when the shadows of the headlands 
sink deep into the placid wateis of the lake. But, whether 
seen in sunshine or in shade — curtained by the mist, or 



with the bright light of morning playing upon the brown 
scores and landslips on the mountain side, or when the 
streamlets form threads of molten silver as they gleam through 
the purple heather and the yellow-lichened rocks ere they 
leap into the lake — the land we invite you to is ever beau- 
tiful in outline, and graceful in form ; and as the warm 
breezes, carried on to us with the great Gulf stream, steal 
in among the West Connaught, Joyce Country, and Conna- 
mara ranges — the Jura and the Alps of Ireland — and give 
fitful atmospheric changes to the colouring of the landscape, 
from bright early dawn to sombre eve, scenes of beauty and 
sublimity are presented that leave us nothing to envy, even 
in the everlasting snowtops with their vine-clad slopes and 
dark pine-robed sides, the mighty glaciers, the rushing ava- 
lanches, nor the deep ultramarine skies of other lands. 

Let us then be off to the Far-West, to which (with a 
choice for a warmer region) the inhabitants of other portions 
of this island were transplanted some centuries ago ; — to the 
ancient home of the aborigines — the land of the Firbolgs, 
the Tuatha de Danann, and the Milesians — the last resting- 
place of the Celt, ere, fulfilling the destiny of his race, and 
the earliest impulses of mankind, he has followed from the 
cradle of humanity the declining sun. Here we can view 
the battlefields and civic vestiges of our Pagan ancestors, 
crowded with caves and cairns, raths, tumuli, monoliths, and 
stone circles, memorials of one of the earliest human occu- 


pancies in North-western Europe ; or investigate the small 
primitive churches that mark the footprints where the early 
Christian Missionary replaced the Druid Priest; or linger by 
the thorn-shaded holy wells, or admire the noble abbeys 
and extensive monasteries of the learned and artistic Fran- 
ciscans and Augustinians. 

Let us first take a peep at the " City of the Tribes," of 
the Blakes, Bodkins, and Browns, Ffonts, Martins, Morrisses, 
Lynches, D'Arcys, Athys, Frenchs, Joyces, Kirwans, and 
Skerretts, &c, and then launch on the blue, island-studded 
waters of Lough Corrib, where, traversing its breadth in a 
trim and commodious steamer, or gliding into its glassy bays 
in a rowboat, we can enjoy some of the most picturesque 
scenery in the land, explore the natural curiosities, and 
speculate upon the influences and actions which, in remote 
times, produced these fantastic forms and disruptured chasms 
that present at the western termination of our great lime- 
stone formation ; — or examine the architecture of the old 
feudal castles and ecclesiastical buildings along its peace- 
ful shores. Our object is rather to interest the reader and 
the tourist in the history, antiquities, and scenery of this 
portion of the West, than amuse him with tales respecting 
pigs, pipers, praties, or potheen ; fools or fiddlers ; bailiffs, 
bullocks, or buckeens ; graziers, gaugers, or ganders ; way- 
side waiters, with their dry jokes for the "gintlemen," or 
wandering dancing masters, and poetasters, once so common 



in the West. We do not claim your sympathy for face- 
tious car drivers, cunning codgers, or knowing gossoons ; 
nor present to you miserably clad spalpeens, ragged urchins, 
wretched peat hovels, importunate beggars, lying guides, 
oppressed tenantry, griping landlords, or tyrannical agents. 
We have nothing to say about priests or patterns ; politics, 
peelers, or parsons ; soldiers, soupers, or sauggarths ; Young- 
Irelanders or old ones ; Fenians or Repealers. There is still 
plenty of fun, frolic, and folk-lore in the West; but, for the 
present, we have no stories to relate about friars or fairies ; 
and we have no opinion to obtrude upon you respecting 
tithes or tenant-right ; High Church or Low Church ; Ultra- 
montanism or Muscular Christianity ; we have no official ad- 
vertisements nor railway puffings, with which to enrich our 
pages or our publisher ; nor can we stop to repeat Syphie 
Burke's "Costello Shentlemen," or gossip among the "Rakes 
of Galway" about — 

" The herrings and the haikes, 
And the Bodkins and the Blakes." 

We may look at the turnips, and taste the murphies ; 
but we promise not to remind you of the fearful scenes of 
the famine,* or anticipate the ravages of a Rinderpest. We 

* See the Author's "Irish Popular Superstitions," Dublin, 1849; and 
the Treatise on the Famine of 1847, in the Irish Census Commissioners' 
Report for 1851, vol. v., part ii. 


have no desire to introduce imaginary conversations in bro- 
ken English, to amuse our Saxon friends at what is styled 
"the vulgarity of the lower order of Irish." We wish to 
take you, as intelligent tourists, with eyes to see and hearts 
to admire the beauties of nature ; where the stately ruin or 
the cultured demesne blends harmoniously with the graceful 
outline of the surrounding landscape ; where your architec- 
tural or antiquarian tastes may be gratified ; your historic 
knowledge increased by the legend or the annal; your scien- 
tific inquiries into the geological structure and biological 
productions of the country obtain a wide scope ; and the 
hitherto neglected resources of a portion of our island may 
be glanced at if not profoundly studied ; and we hope to 
bring you back from your pleasant and cheap excursion on 
Lough Corrib in good health and spirits, pleased with the 
scenery and the inhabitants of the West, satisfied with our 
guidance, and better acquainted with an, as yet, undescribed 
district than you have been heretofore by flying visits to 
this portion of the Emerald Isle. 

Leaving the Broadstone Terminus of the Midland Great 
Western Eailway by the 8.30 A. m. train for Gal way, and 
running for a great portion of our way along the Eoyal 
Canal, through which we were formerly dragged at the rate 
of four miles an hour to Alma Mater by a pair of gerrauns, 
we traverse the uninterrupted plain that extends across the 
island from East to West, for 126 miles, from the Channel 


to the Atlantic. Glancing at O'Connell's round-tower monu- 
ment as we start ; getting glimpses of ancient raths, bar- 
rows, churches, and some of the ruined castles of the Pale, 
as we proceed, we obtain views of the Dublin and Wicklow 
Mountains on our left; and, passing rapidly over the valley 
of the Rye- water, where, leaving Carton Demesne, it courses 
to the LifFey, we proceed onwards to Maynooth, where the 
noble keep of the ancient castle of the Fitzgeralds contrasts 
with the formal modern buildings of the College of St. Pa- 
trick, where the parochial Roman Catholic clergy of Ireland 
are chiefly educated. We rush by the mud hovels of Kil- 
cock, in the county of Kildare ; over portions of the great 
Boo- of Allen, with its thousands of unreclaimed acres, ten- 
anted by grouse and hares ; and pass within view of Clo- 
nard, the ancient seminary, whither, even in the time of 
Alfred, our Saxon neighbours came in hundreds to be in- 
structed. On with us over the Boyne Water, with greater 
speed and safety than it was crossed in 1690; through the 
fat lands of Westmeath, over the Brusna, into Mullingai ; 
beside the clear trout-full waters of Lough Ennel (now 
styled Belvidere), and beyond it catch a distant view of the 
famed Hill of Ushnach, second only to Tara and Emania in 
importance in early Irish history ; margining the site of 
the rath and crannoge of Moate — glancing at sections of the 
great esker that stretches from east to west, and formed the 
ancient boundary between the north and south portions of 


the kingdom — we speed onwards to the noble Shannon, the 
fords and toghers of which were so often invaded and de- 
fended by the Lagenians and Connacians ; and here, over 
the splendid iron railway bridge, enter Connaught. Onwards 
still we pass, under the batteries of Athlone (Ath Luin, 
"the Ford of Luin"), which Ginkell wrested from St. Ruth 
in 1691 ; — along the intersecting stone walls and patches of 
russet bog through the county of Roscommon ; across the 
deep sullen waters of the Suck, winding through the low 
callows and green inches of Ballinasloe, the seat of the 
Clancartys, and the site of the greatest stock fair in Eu- 
rope* — forwards through the county of Galway, by the 
lovely Abbey of Kilconnell — passing Woodlawn, the resi- 
dence of Lord Ashtown ; then to Athenry, the city of "the 
ford of the king," crowded with ancient remains, civil, mili- 
tary, ecclesiastical, and domestic. Coursing now along the 
northern margin of the great plain, once the hunting ground 
of Queen Meave, that sweeps the lower edge of the Burren 
hills, and on which stand the towns of Gort and Loughrea, 
and the round towers of Ardrahan and Kilmacduagh, we 

* Ballinasloe — in Irish, Beal-ath-na- Sluaigead, "the mouth of the 
ford of the hosts," which shows that it was a place of meeting, and pro- 
bably of barter, like that at Telltown, in Meath, in early times. The 
oldest name of the place was, however, Dun Leodha, or Dunlo, from 
its dun, or fort, which formerly stood over the Suck, but was removed 
in 1838, when the Roman Catholic chapel was built on its site. The 
Earl of Clancarty's eldest son takes his title from this name. 


rush by Derrydonnell Castle, and soon feel the western 
breezes playing upon us from Galway Bay, as it indents the 
shores and laves the walls of the old castle of Oranmore ; we 
cross the great level, studded with the feudal halls of the 
De Burgos, and get a foretaste of the Petrasa, upon which 
our pilgrimage in search of the picturesque and beautiful is 
about to commence. But the sterility in the foreground is 
relieved by a view of the blue hills of Clare, and occasion- 
ally in clear weather with glimpses of the distant Isles 
of Aran, that sentinel the magnificent bay of Galway, and 
break the swell of the mighty waves of the Atlantic. We 
must keep a sharp look out to the south-west to see " the 
round tower of other days," standing by the lone sea shore, 
and cutting tall and dark against the leaden sky that is 
now obscuring the outline of Black Head on the distant 
side of Lough Lurgan,* catching a view of Mutton Island 
and its light-house, beside which we could recently admire 
those great leviathans of the deep that brought us in six 
days to American land — but by which, alas ! we lost our 
cash, the Government its subsidy, and the London directory 
some of its credit. * * * * Well, while we "mourn the 

* Lough Lurgan is the ancient Irish name for the bay of Galway. 
The Round Tower of lloscain, alluded to above, stands on the Mur- 
rough, in the parish of Oranmore, and is about four miles from Galway ; 
and with those of Kilmacduagh, Meelick, Aran, Kilbannon, Inishcaltra, 
Killeoona, and Ardrahan, forms the eighth of those remarkable struc- 
tures in that county. 


hopes that leave us," we still expect to see that good time 
come, when, with capital and common prudence, the great 
natural and geographical advantages of the nearest seaport 
in the old world at which to launch us for the new will be 
appreciated. Swiftly we glide over the salt water estuary 
of Lough Athafia, into the great terminus of Galway, at 
1.45 o'clock, and out through it into the enormous lime- 
stone hotel, built, "regardless of expense," by the original 
directors of the railway; and from whence, after a "bit and 
a sup," we emerge among the beggars into Eyre-square, 
surrounded by hotels, club-houses, banks, private residences, 
and coach offices, whence the great " Bian" can forward us 
to u anywhere," and in which we can choose our news- 
paper according to our politics or polemics. Down let us 
pass through William-street, to look at the old mansion of 
Geoffrey Lynch, the " Spanish Parade," and on by the 
house where the skull and crossbones commemorate the 
scene of the " Warden of Galway;" among the turf-kishes, 
and potatoe baskets, and the carts of sea wrack — along 
through handsome groups of blue-eyed, black-haired, bare- 
footed colleens, with their graceful carriage, red petticoats, 
and blue and scarlet cloaks — down to the Fishmarket gate, 
erected to defend the peaceful burgesses against the " Fe- 
rocious O'Flahertys," where we may see the Aran fisher- 
man, in his knee-breeches and loampootas, bargaining with 
the silver-haired Claddagh crone, whose shrimps are jumping 


out of her apron ; where the cockles are smacking their lips 
with the heat, the johndories are alive, and the lobsters are 
playing pitch and toss with the crabs ; till we reach the 
bridge, in the bright stream beneath which — 

"The trout and salmon 
Pla) r ed backgammon," 

long before Dick MiHikin immortalized that feat in song, or 
the gifted Father Prout heard "The Bells of Shandon," or 
wandered by the banks of " Sweet Castlehyde." 

Give a look at the Queen's College, and the Eglinton 
Canal ; carry your eye along the bright gleam, where the 
waters of the lake in one unbroken line pour over the 
weir, and arrange for a few days' fishing with Mr. Miller 
on your return. Do not stop to see which of the six sal- 
mon now hooked will be killed first, but get round to the 
Wood-quay, for there goes the steamer's first bell at ^ to 
3 o'clock. 

Now, that we are on the quarter deck, and have made 
the acquaintance of Ellis, the polite and intelligent Captain 
of the " Eglinton," and arranged with that most attentive 
and careful of clerks, Mr. O'Hara, let us, while the steam is 
getting up, have a short chat about Galway, the Metropolis 
of the West, a corporate town, a Bishop's see — the last lo- 
cality of a " Warden" in Ireland — the birthplace, or the 
early home or school residence of Kirwan the chemist, and 
Kirwan the orator; of Duald Mac Firbis, the genealogist and 


antiquary ; of Roger O'Flaherty* and James Hardiman, the 
historians ; and of Father Peter, who was for so long a 
period " the man for Gal way." It contained in early days 
the chief establishments of the Dominican, Franciscan, Ca- 
puchin, Augustinian, Jesuit, and Carmelite Orders in Con- 
naught, and was at one period the principal trading and 
commercial city in this portion of the United Kingdom, and 
in that respect considered second only to London and 
Dublin. It was formerly renowned for its foreign trade, and 
celebrated for the hospitality of its merchants ; but, while 
the latter remains unimpaired, the former is, alas ! at a low 
ebb ; and, with immense natural capabilities and vast re- 
sources, the Metropolis of Connaught, and the great western 
seaport of Europe, with a population of 16,967 persons in 
1861, although it still manufactures whiskey, flour, and pa- 
per ; beer, brushes, and boats ; besides the ordinary neces- 
saries of daily life, lacks the energy or means of raising 

* Roderick O'Flaherty, descended from the Chieftains of the "West, 
and to whom reference is here made as connected with this locality, 
was one of the most learned Irishmen of the day : his principal works 
are the " Ogygia or Chronology of Irish Events," written in 1G65, and 
his " Chorographical Description of AVest or H-Iar Connaught," the MS. 
of which, written in 1684, was printed by the Irish Archaeological So- 
ciety in 1846, and carefully edited and annotated by the late James 
Hardiman, the only commentator at the period capable of doing justice 
to the great historian of the West. O'Flaherty died in indigence at 
Park, near Galway, at a very advanced age, in 1717. 


itself from the applicability of the old adage of "pride, 
poverty, and devotion." 

The name of Galway has given rise to several philolo- 
gical speculations ; but it is plainly derived from that of 
Gailleamh, the daughter of Breasil, the prosperous King of 
the Firbolgs, who, it is said, having — 

" Bathed in the full cool stream, 
The bright branch was drowned ;" 

and whose monument stood on the river's bank at the time 
the original of this ancient Irish distich was written in the 
Dinn Seanchus, a MS. of great antiquity, still in existence. 
The rock at which she was drowned is marked on the wes- 
tern bank of the river in the celebrated Map of Galway, 
made in 1651, when the Lord Deputy Clanricarde pledged 
the City of the Tribes to the Duke of Lorraine ; and is thus 
referred to on the margin of that remarkable document : — 
"The rock where the woman Galvea is said to have been 
drowned, from which the city of Galway was named." Har- 
diman in his notes to O'Flaherty's " West Connaught," says, 
" Here it is intended by some of the spirited inhabitants of 
the town to restore that remarkable monument, by erecting 
a column on the spot, with the above inscription, in order 
to distinguish the place from which so large a portion of 
that part of Ireland has been named." And now that the 
Crimean guns, which were pointed against the Railway 
Hotel in Eyre-square, have been removed from the grasp of 


the " Irish Republic virtually established," we really think 
some of the public spirit alluded to by our deceased friend 
might find vent for itself in commemoration of the lady who 
left her name to the locality, and give at least one statue 
to the Metropolis of Connaught.* 

In ancient Irish writings the city of Galway is styled 
Dun Gaillve, the Doon or fortified place at the mouth of 
the River Gaillve ; and in the modern vernacular it is always 
called Cahir Gallieve. 

It is related that the river of Galway was dry on se- 
veral occasions, both in summer and winter ; so much so, 
that articles dropt therein centuries before were then disco- 
vered, as in A. D. 1178, in 1190, in 1647, and in 1683, &cf 

* With the exception of the white marble statue of "William III., 
formerly standing on the bridge of Boyle, where in olden days we saw 
it dressed in " Orange and Blue," even after its head had been cut off, 
and thrown into the river, and which is now preserved in the public 
grounds of that famed locality, there is no public statue in the province 
of Connaught ! 

f Mr. Kinahan, of the Geological Survey, has very ingeniously en- 
deavoured to account for these droughts, by supposing that the water 
of the Galway river had suddenly found its way through some of the 
old subterranean passages, one of which exists at Castlegar, leading 
across into Lough Athalia. These outlets, previously choked up with 
sand, became clear at very low tides. See the " Geological Magazine" 
for November, 1866, for his Paper " On the formation of the Rock 
Basin of Lough Corrib. " " The passage to the Castlegar outlet was 
closed about fifteen years ago by the Board of Works, to facilitate the 
navigation of the Lough." It had previously been closed by the Lough 
Corrib Navigation Company — see note, page 32. 


The present arms of Galway are an antique galley, bear- 
ing a shield with a lion rampant at the masthead, and hav- 
ing this motto, " Laudatio ejus manet in seculum seculi." 

The Wardenship of Galway, last held by the Rev. James 
Daly, of the Dunsandle family, was done away with in 
1840, and the title of city reduced to that of town. It is 
in the Protestant diocese of Tuam, which includes the 
whole region of South-west Connaught; but the town and 
parishes of St. Nicholas and Kahoon form a special Roman 
Catholic diocese, and the jurisdiction of its present Bishop, 
Dr. Mac Evilly, has lately been increased by his accession 
to the administration of the ancient sees of Kilmacdua^h 
and Kilfenora. 

Now, that the reader is about to launch on Lough Cor- 
rib — whether as a peruser of this work in Belgravia or 
Merrion-square, or absolutely on board the Eglinton, it mat- 
ters little — we will develope our plan. Generally speak- 
ing, our survey will be littoral and parochial; beginning on 
the east, traversing the north, and pursuing our route in 
the most convenient manner round the north and west 
shores of the lake, but occasionally, when objects of interest 
connected with the locality present, diverging a short dis- 
tance inland. 

The road from Galway to Cong, through Clare-Gal way. 
by Annaghdown, Headford, and Cross, &c, is a fair day's 
journey of about thirty miles, and will enable the anti- 


quarian tourist to visit everything of note on that side of 
the lake, either going or coming. Arrived at Cong by 
road or lake, and taking up his quarters there for a couple 
of days, the objects of interest surrounding that locality, as 
well as the eastern shores of Lough Mask and the plain of 
Moytura, may be investigated ; and the island of Inchingoil 
can be visited within the space of an hour by a rowboat. 
Pedestrians will be amply rewarded by a walk over the 
hills from Cong to Maam, and ladies can have conveyances 
for the same purpose; or, what is preferable in calm weather, 
a boat may be obtained at Cong to visit the upper lake, 
and proceed by Doon and the Hen's Castle to Maam Hotel, 
a distance of about twelve miles by land, and thirteen or 
fourteen by water. 

During summer, excursions are frequently made by the 
steamer from Galway to Oughterard, and thence by the 
south of Inchingoil through the upper lake to Castlekirk, 
and as far as the Hen's Castle. 

From Maam a road four miles long, proceeding nearly 
due south, and commanding scenes of great beauty, takes 
us to the highroad leading from Clifden, by Baliinahinch 
and Oughterard, to Galway, on which public cars ply twice 
daily. Thus the shores of the lake may be circumambulated 
with facility. 

Tourists pressed for time, or not much interested in 
archaeological investigations, but anxious to obtain a o*ene- 


ral view of the extreme western limit of the British Isles in 
the shortest possible space of time, can leave London by 
the night mail, and at a very trifling expense, and with 
little wear and tear, reach Galway at 1.45 P.M., next day ; 
and dine at Cong at 6.30 ; or, if determined on a rush, 
take a seat on Bianconi's long car, and, passing through 
some of the wildest portion of Connamara, sleep at Clifden, 
proceed next day by public or private conveyance, by 
Kylemore and Leenane, and, leaving the Westport road at 
the head of the Killeries, pass down through the lovely 
valley of Maam to Lough Corrib ; and there either take 
boat or car for Cong ; and, returning by the steamer next 
morning, be in Dublin at 5.15 o'clock in the afternoon of 
the third day, and in Euston-square early the next morn- 
ing. He will thus have traversed about 1031 miles by 
railway (first class), and other conveyance, for about £6. 
See advertisements. 

Good accommodation, although not very extensive, may 
be procured at Headford, Cong, Maam, and Oughtcrard, 
each locality possessing a post office ; and what may be 
wanting in hotel appliances will be found to be made up 
for in civility and moderation of charges. 

The tourist may also proceed by Maam, through the 
valley between Joyce Country and Connamara to the Kil- 
leries, by Leenane and Kylemore, to Clifden, where good 
accommodation can be procured; or from Leenane to West- 




KNOCKNATUATH; the battle of the chieftains ; THE ieish against 


" Now then, time's up — strike the bell — stand by good peo- 
ple, the gentlemen don't want any more lobsters at sixpence 
a piece — shove along that vagabond pig — get these barrels and 
meal bags forward — pull in the gangway — throw off the line — 
move her ahead." We are afloat on the River Gallive, with 
our larboard side to the deserted breweries and never com- 
pleted factories, by which runs to waste upwards of a thousand 
horse power in the rapid river — ^vith our starboard along side 
Terrilan, Tir-OUlen, the pass or "ford of Oillen " — the ruined 
castellated mansion, figured in the following cut, 75 feet long 
by 25 broad, and said by tradition to have been one of the 
earliest locations of the Earls of Clanricade. It possesses little 



architectural or picturesque interest, as, like most ruins in the 
neighbourhood of crowded localities, every accessible quoin or 
dressed stone has been removed, to assist in erecting whatever 
structures not composed of mud may be seen in the neigh- 
bouring cabins of Bohermore, and other equally classic sub- 
urban villas on the south slope of the heights of Caher Gal- 
live ; and no fostering ivy has as yet thrown a green mantle 
over its bare grey walls. 

Numerous are the legends still repeated of the prowess of 
the De Burgos, and the wiles and daring of the OTlahertys, 
in connexion with this castle, erected to defend the river's 
ford at this point. It is frequently alluded to in the "Annals 



of the Four Masters,"* and in other authentic histories, and 
so late as 1641 it was garrisoned by Dermot O'Daly. 

Where the earliest Castle of Galway absolutely stood, un- 
less at this spot, it is now difficult to determine. Turgesius, 
the sanguinary Danish commander, overran Connaught in 835, 
and "the ancient town of Galway was destroyed." Hardiman 
says, the Castle. Dune-bun na Gaillve, or the fortification at the 
mouth of the Galway river, was erected soon after the defeat 

* Early in the seventeenth century a learned Irishman, Hugh Ward, 
head of the Franciscans at Louvain, sent Michael O'Cleary, a lay brother 
of that order, and a distinguished scholar and hereditary antiquary, to Ire- 
land, to collect materials for lives of saints, which, after Ward's death, 
were used by Colgan in his "Acta Sanctorum." Michael associated with 
him two other scribes, antiquarians, and genealogists of his tribe, Conor 
and Peregrine O'Cleary, and also Fearfassa O'Mulcorey, or Conry, and 
O'Dugan, &c; and, besides other works, they compiled from all the then 
available sources a book of the " Annals of Ireland," from the earliest 
period to the year 1616, and which they completed at Donegal, in 1634. 
Colgan, writing of this work shortly afterwards, styled it, Annales Quatuor 
Magistrorum, and hence the appellation of the " Four Masters," in imita- 
tion of a similar term employed by early medical writers. See the author's 
description of the Annals of Ireland, in the " Census Reports for 1851," 
vol. v. published in 1856. 

The learned Dr. O'Conor published an annotated version of a por- 
tion of these annals, and Professor Connellan translated and published 
those from 1171 to 1616. Subsequently all these annals were translated 
into English, and copiously annotated, by the late John O'Donovan, and 
now form seven large quarto volumes, published by Hodges and Smith ; 
and it may fearlessly be asserted that they are the most extensive, truthful, 
and learned historic and topographical work of their kind in Europe. 


of the Danes at Clontarf ; and then its erection, and the im- 
provement of the town, were a source of jealousy to the people 
of Munster, between whom and those of Connaught there had 
long existed a considerable degree of competition. Conor, 
King of Munster, in 1132 despatched a body of troops by sea, 
commanded by Cormac Mac Carthy, who besieged and took 
the Castle. Again, in 1149, Turlogh O'Brien, King of Mun- 
ster, invaded Connaught, and destroyed the town and Castle 
of Galway, which ravages, however, appear to have been soon 
after repaired. In 1230 Hugh O'Flaherty, the chief of his 
name, fortified himself in the Castle of Galway, which, by his 
spirited resistance, he was able to keep against De Burgo. 

The foregoing references to castles and fortified houses 
(neither uncemented Duns, Cahers, nor Cashels, such as shall 
presently engage our attention), out of hundreds which could 
be adduced of fortifications, churches, and bridges, erected by 
Irish chieftains long prior to the date of the Anglo-Norman 
invasion, are here worthy of notice, and might afford mate- 
rials for a dissertation, if the question required further proof. 
Yet still some of the architectural lights from across the water, 
unfamiliar with our early history, occasionally propound the 
doctrine that the Irish were unacquainted with the use of mor- 
tar until taught by the invaders of 1172. Our traditions are 
to be approached with reverence, and investigated with care ; 
and there can be no doubt that the eclectic examination made 
of our annals during the last thirty years, and a comparison 


of the ancient literary records, or the story of the shannaghie, 
with the existing monuments, have largely tended to confirm 
the truth of Irish history ; nor have we any doubt that they 
will be still further elucidated, when a more extended exami- 
nation of the three memorials of the past — the record, the 
legend, and the existing monument — shall have been made by 
learned, faithful, and unspeculative scholars and antiquaries. 

The subject of this digression introduces to us a family 
which, of all the Anglo-Norman chieftains who came over at 
the time of the invasion (except the Geraldines), exercised 
most influence, retained most territory, and still possess most 
power in Ireland. The descendants of William Fitzadelm De 
Burgo, who arrived with Strongbow Earl of Pembroke, in 
1172, acquired more land, built more castles, and left a more 
widespread name than most of those whose ancestors had con- 
quered Harold on the battlefield of Hastings — a fact which 
may be accounted for by the circumstance of their having been 
among the very first of those who earned the title of Hiber- 
niores ipsis Hibernicis ; having as frequently been found fight- 
ing side by side with the Celt as taking part with the Saxon : 
although members of that family were more than once the 
English King's Deputy in Ireland. Sir William Leigh De 
Burgh, who died in 1324, and was interred in the Abbey of 
St. Francis, at Galway, left seven sons, the eldest of whom, Sir 
Ulick of Annaghkeen, was the first Mac William lighter, or 
of the "upper" or Galway Connacean territory; and from his 


son Rikard has descended the family of the Clanricarde, one 
of whom, Walter De Burgo, who was styled Earl of Ulster, 
in right of his wife, daughter of Hugo de Lacey, was assassi- 
nated at Carrickfergus in 1333. Another branch of this family, 
descended from Eclmond Albanagh, or "The Scot," possessed 
the lower or Mayo territory, and took the title of Mac William 
Eightei*, from whom the Earls of Mayo have descended. Both 
the De Burgos, however, in the early part of the fourteenth 
century, shook off obedience to the English laws, renounced 
their allegiance to the Crown ; and, u in order to conciliate 
the natives in their favour, discontinued the use of the English 
language, threw off their English dress, and adopted both the 
language and apparel of the Irish, embraced the Irish laws, 
and transmitted their possessions in the course of tanistry and 
gavelkind." So much for the De Burgos, now called Burkes 
or Bourkes — a name of very frequent announcement in the 
entire West of Ireland, and especially along the shores of 
Lough Corrib. 

Passing up the river by Jordan's Island, we steam past 
Menlough Castle, the picturesque residence of Sir Thomas 
Blake, Bart., standing on the water's edge, with the remains 
of the outer walls on the south, and presenting to us, as shown 
by the subsequent cut, one of the handsomest of the inha- 
bited old castles of Ireland. Neither the family records, nor 
any of the published histories, afford a clue to the date of its 
erection ; but the Menlough family founded one of the tribes 



of Galway, and are connected with, if not descended from, 
the English Blakes of Cumberland. 

At the rere of the castle may be seen the village of Men- 
lough, one of the largest collections of cabins in Ireland, and 
the inhabitants of which formerly exercised, in conjunction with 
those of the Claddagh, so potential an influence upon the re- 
turn of the member for Galway. The inhabitants of this vil- 
lage amounted in 1841, to 1100; in 1851, to 764; and in 

1861 they had fallen to 682. What a source of wealth the 
children of this village could be made to some enterprising 
manufacturer, who might employ them, and hundreds of others 
in the vicinity, at from three to sixpence a day ! 

Around the village of Menlough we see nothing but stones, 
stones, stones; but on the opposite bank we have Dangan, 


the original seat of the Martins, lately converted into a nun- 
nery, but now deserted even by the benevolent sisters ; and 
also Bushy Park, and other residences of the neighbouring 

So far on our course we have passed through the barony 
as well as the county of Galway — between the parishes of 
Rahoon on the left and St. NICHOLAS on the right; and in the 
latter, besides that of Terrilan, already described, we have the 
ruins of Castlegar, Ballybrit, and Merlin Castles ; but they are 
not of sufficient importance nor vicinity to the lake to merit 
a detailed description, or require illustration. 

The large parish of ORANMORE, through a portion of which 
we passed on approaching Galway, and which contains the 
castle and townland of Menlough, here runs down to the lake 
margin between those of St. Nicholas and Clare-Galway ; but 
its early inhabitants seem to have concentrated their energies 
more upon its sea-board than its lacustrine border, and have 
left us nothing worthy of attention at this end of it, except 
the ruins of the square Castle of Cloonacanneen and that of 

Here, as we pass upwards, the Corrib River diverges to the 
west ; and, being too shallow and rocky for the passage of 
the "Eglinton," we enter, through a deep sedgy marsh or bog, 
about a mile in length, the canal traditionally called the 
" Friars' Cut," as explained at page 36. Leaving behind us 
the long curling sludgy waves that rush like serpents along 


the banks, as if to overtake us, as we pass through this Cut, 
we emerge into the broad blue waters of the Lower Lake. 
On the left, or western side of our course, may be seen the 
ridge of hills that stretches from Galway to Oughterard ; and 
along their slopes the demesnes of Woodstock, Farm, Danes- 
field ; and also the village of Moycullen, now the property of 
Lord Campbell ; beyond which appear, as we proceed, the 
woods of Drimcong, Knockbane, and Ross. 

Putting on full speed as we leave the Friars' Cut, and pass 
into the broad uninterrupted space of the lower lake, we have 
on our right the marble quarries of Angliham, and soon get a 
glimpse over the low limestone plain, eastward of our course, of 
the butt of the old castle, and the tall slender tower that rises 
from the centre of the Abbey or cruciform church of the Con- 
vent of Clare-Gal way, which, although at some distance from 
the water's edge, is not without our prescribed parochial limits, 
and is of too great beauty and importance to be omitted ; and, 
moreover, it is on the highroad between Galway and Cong, 
being but six miles' distance from the former. A more pic- 
turesque group of ruins, or one comprising a greater variety for 
the display of the artist's pencil, can scarcely be found, even 
amidst the multitudinous remains that crowed the parishes abut- 
ting upon Lough Corrib, than this scene presented in former 
days — with its little mill, and slow winding river passing 
under a long, low, many-arched bridge, but which is now re- 
placed by a canal, and a single formal arch. 


The massive square ivy-clad keep of the castle, now used 
as a barn, stands on the east of the roadside, and was for- 
merly the residence of Mac William lighter De Burgo, as 
stated by the Four Masters, under the date 1469, in which year 
it was burned by Hugh Roe O'Donnell. As it was contiguous 
to the famous battle-field of Knocktuagh, fought between the 
Earls of Kildare and Clanricarde in 1504, it was occupied 
by the Irish party; and in 1512 it was again the seat of war. 
It is at present 63 feet high, 20 long, and 20 broad, and par- 
takes of the general characteristics of such buildings in the 
West — consisting of a pointed-arched entrance to the porch, 
within which is the usual Poul-na-morrough or "murdering 
hole," an aperture in the thick vaulted roof above, through 
which missiles could be showered on assailants who had gained 
an entrance through the outer door. A winding stone stair- 
case leads from story to story, the lower one of which was 
usually stone-arched, and over it an upper apartment with a 
large handsome chimneypiece, and illuminated by mullioned 
or decorated narrow lights; and, as here, a corbelled projec- 
tion all round for supporting a wooden floor, or sometimes a 
stone-arched one ; and above that the parapet, either plain or 
corbied, and having one or more turrets at the angles ; while 
the prison, gardrobe, and some secret hiding holes, were 
usually placed in the thickness of the northern wall. In ad- 
dition, this castle had a portcullis, the groove of which shows 
long and constant usage. 


In a document styled "The Division of Connaught, A. D. 
1586," now in the British Museum, no less than thirty-three 
castles are enumerated in the barony of Clare, chiefly of De 
Burgo origin ; but all are now either in ruins, or their sites 
only discernible by heaps of stones. 

Writers on domestic and defensive architecture, alluding to 
these castles, erected in Ireland between the fourteenth and six- 
teenth centuries, are too much in the habit of looking upon our 
castellated mansions as mere guardrooms for the security and 
defence of the soldiery by which they were garrisoned, without 
taking into consideration the artistic skill and taste with which 
many of them were adorned ; nor remembering the ladies bright 
and accomplished, who " walked in silk attire ;" the bards and 
minstrels, with their harps, and songs, and legends ; the scholars 
learned, the clerics pious, as well as the valiant knights and 
nobles, in their burnished armour and nodding plumes, by 
whom they were tenanted, but of whose social life and habits 
we know little. In looking back upon those ages, it is scarcely 
possible to disassociate from skill, taste, and refinement in archi- 
tecture, similar personal culture and costume ; but until some 
gifted poetic child of Erin, with an eye to see, and a pen to 
paint the beauties of both nature and art — observation to appre- 
ciate and display the workings of the human heart — dramatic — 
learned in the history of the past — antiquarian in knowledge, 
and patriotic in feeling — and, above all, possessing that rare gift 
of fusing fiction with fact, and weaving the romance with the le- 


50 clare-galway. 

gend, as Scott did for the history and monuments of his native 
country — the castle may crumble, the abbey moulder, the war- 
rior lie unremembered, and the lady fair unwept for, in this 
land so fertile in imagination, and so profound in pathos. And 
until the proprietors who own these castles feel proud of their 
heritage or their acquisition, and the clerics who claim by trans- 
mitted hereditary right these abbeys, and who perhaps hope to 
claim them on a future day, take some interest in their preser- 
vation, the most the modern writer can do is to invoke public 
opinion; while the tourist will still have, for yet many a day, to 
grope his way among these crumbling walls, through mud and 
briers, and to disturb the bullock calves, and fat wedders, that 
may almost invariably be found desecrating the tombs that pave 
these sacred aisles, and disturb the goats that take occasional 
shelter even underneath their high altars. 

The records state that about the year 1290, John De Cogan 
built a Monastery at Clare-yn-dowl for Franciscan Friars, in a 
very elegant style, and at great expense. A few brothers of 
the order performed service in the small northern chapel within 
the last six years ; but all that now remains of recent occupancy 
within these consecrated precincts are a cowhouse and pigstye. 

Although the modern name of this parish is Clare-Galway, 
it is called in Irish Bailie- Clair or Bally -an- Clave, the Bally or 
town of the Claire or "flat" — a title which it well deserves. 
There are several Clares and Bally- CI ares in Connaught — and 
it requires some topographical knowledge to distinguish which 


is the one referred to in the annals and histories ; but this par- 
ticular locality is styled, in most ancient documents, " Clare-en- 
Dowl" "the Devil's Flat," or board, because, according to the 
local traditions, the rapid river at this place was formerly 
crossed on planks supported on pillars. 

The ruins of the Abbey or Convent Church stand on the 
right or northern bank of the river, a little below the Castle ; 
and, like most other structures which came from the hands of 
those noble church-builders, the Franciscans, it is characterized 
by a taste and elegance wdiich neither time, nor the rough 
hand of the despoiler, nor even the gross neglect of modern 
proprietors has been able to efface. It was originally cruci- 
form ; and from the intersection of nave, choir, and transepts, 
was reared, on high pointed arches, a tall slender tower, that 
for graceful proportions may vie with, if indeed it does not 
surpass, any other of its kind in Ireland. 

AVhen the sun breaks forth after a passing shower, bright- 
ening up a side of this tower, and throwing out the gorgeous 
colours of golden lichen clothing its grey time-beaten stones, 
and contrasting with the brilliant green of the pellitory and um- 
belliferous plants that cluster on its string courses, and around 
its windows and corbied parapet, a more glorious effect, and at 
the same time a more beauteous harmony of colour and form, 
can scarcely be imagined. The illustration of this ruin in the 
following page has been taken from the south-east, and repre- 
sents, besides the tower, which is seen from a great distance all 

E 2 



round, the dilapidated east window, the northern arches of the 
nave, and the small chapel, in which the friars had service 

within the last few years. The entire length of this church 
was 142 feet, and that of the transept, 112. The height of the 
tower is probably 80 feet. Among the references made to 
this place by our annalists and ecclesiologists, it is said, under 
the date of 1296, that Philip de Blund, Archdeacon ofTuam, 
during the time of the dispute respecting the episcopacy of 
Enachdun, took by violence from the friars of Clare-Galway, 
in which place they had been deposited, the pontificalia, con- 
sisting of the chest containing the " episcopal mitre, together 

GALWAY PLOUGHS IN 1696 AND 1 773. 53 

with the pastoral staff, and sundry other things," of the neigh- 
bouring cathedral. 

There are not now many tombs of note within the pre- 
cincts of this venerable and still beautiful pile ; but among the 
well-cut flagstones paving the aisles of nave and transept, may 
be seen early indications of the agricultural skill of the people 
of this great fertile plain or Clare, in the number and variety 
of ploughs carved upon them. They bear date from the middle 
of the seventeenth to the end of the eighteenth centuries ; and 
the two preceding facsimile cuts, selected out of eight, repre- 
sent that early civilizer as it existed in Galway, the upper one 
in 1696, and the lower in 1773. Neither seems to have been 


drawn by the horse's tail, against which so many enactments 
had been made in former days ; but which practice, it is said, 
had not been altogether discontinued in Erris at the early part 
of the present century. 

Upon the left or southern bank of the river stands a large 
ecclesiastical ruin, surrounded by a graveyard. 

About eight miles from the City of the Tribes, and behind, 
and somewhat to the north-east of Clare-Galway, rises a sloping 
green elevation, crowned by the dilapidated mansion of the late 
Major A. Kir wan, and which is known as Knocktoe, or Knoc- 
na-tuadh, "the hill of the hatchets" or battle-axes, from the 
following circumstances ; although the name is probably older 
than the assigned date. At the beginning of the sixteenth cen- 
tury, Gerald, eighth Earl of Kildare, was the English King's 
(Henry VII.), Lord Deputy in Ireland, and had married Eus- 
tacia, one of his daughters, to Ulick Mac William De Burgo, 
Earl of Clanricarde ; but, according to the narrative, she u was 
not so used as the Earl [Gerald] could be pleased with, and 
he said he would be revenged upon this Irishman [Mac Wil- 
liam], who stood at defiance with the Earl and all his partakers." 
The Deputy thereon assembled a great army, and marched 
into Connaught in August, 1504, bringing with him O'Reilly, 
O'Conor of Ofaley (it is said O'Neill), Sir Nicholas Lord of 
Howth ; the Barons of Delvin, Gormanstown, Killeen, Slane, 
and Trimbleston ; with Hollywood of Artane, and other nobles 
and gentles of "the best men in all the English Pale." Some 


border chiefs also flocked to his standard — as O'Hanlon, O'Far- 
rell, Mac Mahon, OBeirn, and, according to some writers, Hugh 
Roe O'Donnell ; and "he was joined by the forces of almost all 
the Northern half of Ireland." Some of the Connaceans like- 
wise joined the Viceroy's army — as O'Conor Roe from Sligo ; 
The Mac Dermot of Moylurg ; and even the Mayo or lower 
branch of the De Burgos, the sons of Mac William Eighter 
and all the O'Kellys, from the neighbouring territory of Hy- 
Many ; for, according to the statement in the "Four Masters," 
the true cause of quarrel and immediate excuse for this rising 
was, that O'Kelly had complained to the Lord Justice that 
Ulick, third Earl of Clanricarde, had demolished three of his 
castles ; and we read elsewhere that the Clan-Rickard Burkes, 
being " of Englishe nacion, berith mortal hate to the Kellys," 
w T ho were of the old Irish stock. 

There also came with the King's representative several 
bishops, clerics, and lawyers. On seeing which class of non- 
belligerents, O'Neill is said to have thus addressed his chief at a 
council of war, held within a short distance of this hill on the 
day before the battle : — " My Lord of Kildare, command the 
bishopps to go home and pray ; for bishops' councells ought not 
to be taken in matters of warr, for their profession is to pray 
and preach, to make fair weather, and not to be privy to man- 
slaughter or bloodshed, but in preaching and teaching the Word 
of God." And with respect to the men learned in the law 
O'Conor said: — "Wee have no matters of pleading, nor matters 


of arguments, nor matter to debate, nor to be discussed by pen 
and ink, but by the bow, speare, and sword; and the valiant 
host of gentlemen and men of warr, by their fierce and lofty 
doings ; and not by the simple, sorry, weak, and doubtful sto- 
machs of learned men ; for I never saw those that were learned 
give good counsaile in matters of warr ; for they were always 
doubting, staying, or persuading men in frivolous and uncertain 
words. Away with them ! they are overbold to press among 
this company ; for our matter is to be decided by valiant and 
stout stomachs of prudent and wise men of warr, practised 
in the same faculty, and not matters of law nor matters of 

On the other side Clanricarde mustered a great army to 
give them battle, among whom, with their clans, were Turlogh 
O'Brien, Lord of Thomond, and his brother, with all their 
forces ; the Siol-Aedha, or the Macnamaras ; and Mulrony 
O'Carroll, Lord of Ely, with all his clans and chieftains, who 
were joined by the nobles of Ormond and Ara. — See Annals of 
The Four Masters. 

The Irish held possession of the hill ; and the battle was 
fought, on the 19th of August, in the plain that slopes by the 
north-east to Turloughrnore. Both sides had cavalry, and the 
English at least had archers ; but the chief stay of both armies 
were the gallowglasses, with their bright battle-axes, and the 
De Burgo contingent of which was headed by the redoubtable 
Mac Swine, so famed for his prowess in the use of that weapon. 


By the so-called English army the battle was " sett" by placing 
the horse on the left or southern wing, under Baron Delvin ; 
"the bowmen [were] put in two wings, of which the Lords of 
Gormanstown and Killeen had the charge, being good men that 
day ; the billmen in the main battle, of which the Lord of 
Howth was leader, and in the vanguard himself." 

The Connaught and Munster men, or so-called Irish Army, 
says the chronicler, in the " Book of Howth," spent "all that 
night watching, and drinking, and playing at cards, who should 
have this prisoner or that prisoner, and thus they passed the 
night over ; and at morrow they prepared for battle in such 
order as their custom was. * * They set forward their gallow- 
glass and footmen in one main battle, and all their horse on 
their left [or northern] side, and so came on."* 

The Lord Deputy, " a mighty man of station," who rode 

* The "Book of Howth'' is a MS. of the sixteenth century, now in the 
Carew Collection preserved in the Lambeth Library. See Hardiman's notes 
to O'Flaherty's " H-Iar Connaught," p. 154, from whence the foregoing ex- 
tracts have been taken. See also the "Annals of The Four Masters" under 
a. d. 1504; O'Donovan's Letters on Gal way, in Ordnance Collection, in Li- 
brary of Royal Irish Academy ; and Gilbert's " History of the Viceroys of 
Ireland," p. 468. A remarkable discrepancy occurs between the Howth and 
Donegal Annalists, the former of whom, writing earlier than the latter, states 
that O'Neal was with Kildare at Knocktuadh, and ignores the presence of 
O'Donnell. The latter enumerates O'Donnell among the advisers and chief 
supporters of the Deputy, but says that O'Neill was not there. See also the 
latest description of the Battle of Knocktoe, in Haverty's History of Ireland 7 
1860, p. 343. 


upon a black horse, made the following oration just before the 
engagement: "Here is against us a great number of people with- 
out weapons, for a great number of them have but a spear and 
a knife; without wisdom, or good order, they march to battle 
as drunken as swine to a trough, which makes them more rash 
and foolish men, than wise and valiant. Kemember, all that we 
have done rests upon this day's service, and also the honour 
of our Prince ; and remember how we are in a country un- 
known to the most number of us, and farr from our towns and 
castles." When the Earl had proceeded thus far, three great 
cries were heard, probably of Gall riagh aboo, the battle cry of 
the De Burgos, as Crom a boo was that of the Geraldines. 
"The English archers lent such a shower of arrows, that the 
weapons [of the Irish gallowglasses] and their hands were fas- 
tened together. Mac Swine struck Darcy such a blow upon 
the helmet, that he put him upon his knees. With that, Nan- 
gle, Baron of the Nowan, being a lusty gentleman that day, 
gave Mac Swine such payment, that he was satisfied ever after. 
They fought terrible and bould awhile, [but] the Irish fled." A 
Dublin soldier struck an Irish horseman "with a gun, with both 
his hands, and so let out his brains." This is the only notice 
of firearms recorded in any of the narrations of the battle ; and 
the gun, which was probably a matchlock, seems to have been 
used more as a shillelah or clath-alpeen, than as a chemical ex- 
plosive projectile. 

Far from the field of action, wrote the Donegal Annal- 


ists — possibly quoting or paraphrasing some of the grandilo- 
quent descriptions of the contemporaneous poets or prose writ- 
ers of the locality — "were heard the violent onset of the martial 
chiefs, the vehement efforts of the champions, the charge of 
the royal heroes, the noise of the lords, the clamour of the 
troops when endangered, the shouts and exultations of the 
youths, the sound made by the falling of the brave men, and 
the triumphing of the nobles over the plebeians. The battle 
was at length gained against Mac William, O'Brien, and [the 
chiefs of] Leath Mhogha, and a great slaughter was made of 
them ; and among the slain was Murrough Mac-I-Brien Ara, 
together with many others of the nobles. And of the nine 
battalions which were in solid battle array, there survived 
only one broken battalion." — Annals of The Four Masters. 

" The young Gerot [Kildare's son, who had been stationed 
-with the reserve], seeing the battle join, could not stand still to 
wait his time, as he was appointed by the Earl his father, but 
set on with the foremost, in such sort that no man alive could 
do better with his own hands than he did that day for man- 
hood of a man. But by reason of his hastyness, not tarrying 
in the place appointed, all the English carriage was taken by 
the Irish horse, and a few of the English gentlemen taken pri- 
soners." — Book of Howth. 

The numbers slain in this battle are variously stated — some 
writers asserting that the Irish lost 9000, and others only 2000. 
It was evidently a hand-to-hand fight without firearms, and only 


lasted a few hours before the rout commenced ; and it is 
scarcely possible that 9000 persons were killed on either side. 
Some writers have fallen into the error of styling this memo- 
rable battle an engagement between the English and Irish; 
whereas it was neither more nor less than the result of a per- 
sonal quarrel between two rival Norman-Irish Chieftains, the 
Geraldine and the De Burgo, who, having their own aggran- 
dizement in view, used the " mere Irish" to assist them in 
their personal quarrels and family feuds. The battle of Knock- 
tuath was not fought between English and Irish, but between 
the Leath- Chuinn or Northern chieftains, assisted by the East- 
erns, and the Leath-Mhogha, or the Southern or Munstermen, 
together with those of the western portion of Connaught — in 
which the latter were defeated, as they probably might be in 
later times. Kildare and his army proceeded to Galway, "car- 
rying with them as prisoners the two sons and a daughter of 
Mac William ;" probably from Clare-Galway Castle. 

Passing along the road from Clare-Galway by Leacht- 
George (for which see description of Castle Creevy at page 
78), and northwards towards Headford, we cross an angle of 
Lackagh parish. Upon the left of the road stands a very fine 
liss or earthen fort ; and on the right are the young woods of 
Baunmore, the property of Richard A. H. Kirwan, Esq. "We 
then proceed by Cregg Castle, the seat of Francis Blake, Esq., 
which with Menlough is one of the few old castellated man- 
sions still inhabited in Connaught. It was erected by Patrick 


Kir wan in 1648, and stands in a spacious well-wooded de- 
mesne, and was the birth-place and formerly the residence of 
the distinguished philosopher, and President of the Royal Irish 
Academy, to whom allusion has been already made at page 
10.* Within Cregg demesne there is a small ruined church, 
and to the south-west is seen the tower of Liscanniaun Castle, 
and more to the west stands Drumgriffin held by Ullig Reogh 
in 1586. 

Outside the north side of the demesne is a pretty bit of land- 
scape, and a "flash" of water called Ath-cloiggeen, or the "ford 
of the little bell ;" and beyond it the mills of Cregg, near which 
the tourist, if travelling by the road, can turn down to the lake 
side by Winterfield, through the parish of Annaghdown; but, to 
pursue our lacustrine course, we must rejoin the steamer, and, 
passing up through the lower lake, approach the group of ruins 
which stands beside the landing place of Annaghdown. 

As we leave the Friars' Cut, and steam through the lower 
lake, and also while passing through the narrow rocky portion 
ahead of our course, the long, low sterile district of Gnomore 
and Gnobeg, with the flat, lake margins of the parishes of 
Moycullen and Killannan come into view on the west ; and 
as the eye traverses this apparently sterile region, it rests 
occasionally on the chimney of the lead mine at Gortmore, 
and the grey side wall of Tolokian Castle, popularly called 

* See Mr. Donovan's Memoir of Richard Kirwan, in the Proceedings of 
the Royal Irish Academy, vol. iv., page 480— Ixxxi. 



Caislean-na-Cailliaghe, or the Hag's Castle and of which the 
accompanying illustration, 
from a drawing made by 
Mr. Wakeman for the Ord- 
nance Survey, many years 
ago, gives a good idea. 
This castle is called Tullo- 
kyne on the Ordnance Map, 
and it must not be con- 
founded with the Caislen- 
na-Caillighe on Lough Mask, 
referred to in the Donegal 
Annals, under A. D. 1195. In 
1586, Muriertagh O'Conor 
held the castle of Tullekyhan. 
Of its origin, or true history, we know nothing; but it is 
mentioned by O'Flaherty in 1684, when a similar structure, a 
few paces distant, existed, but which was blown down by 
the great storm of January, 1839. They were called, says 
Hardiman, "the Castles of the two Sisters, of whom some ro- 
mantic tales of former days are still current." Among these, 
the people state that when these old maids were too old 
to visit, they built these castles in such close contiguity in order 
that they might daily "barge" one another from their respec- 
tive windows. At long run, however, the dame that owned 
the present ruin cut short the dispute by killing^her sister. 




ANNAGHDOWN, Annaghdune, or Enough-Duin, the dun or "for- 
tress of the bog" — and in modern Irish, Enagh-coin, "the fort 
of the bog," or possibly of St. Coona — giving name to a large 
parish in the barony of Clare, about twelve miles from Galway, 
is the first stopping place of the steamer, and contains the chief 
group of ruins that occur on the eastern shore of Lough Corrib, 
on our upward route. They consist of, a picturesque tall square 
castle, still in fine preservation, the walls of the Bishop's resi- 
dence, with the wells of St. Brendan, the founder, and St. 
Cormack, on the south ; and the extensive remains of an Abbey 
and Monastery, and also a Nunnery, and other ecclesiastical 
buildings, on the north side of a rocky inlet of the lake, into 


which a small stream pours its waters. In early Christian 
times this was the site of the fifth Bishop's See in Connaught, 
the boundary of which was coextensive with the seigniority of 
Iar Connaught, and in the territory of the chiefs of Hy-Brien 
Seola, the progenitors of the O'Flahertys, ere they were driven 
by the De Burgos and other English settlers westward, across 
the lake, into the baronies of Moycullen and Ross. 

It is stated in the "Book of Ballymote" that Aodha, son of 
Eochy Tirmacarna, King of Connaught, bestowed Enaghdun 
on God and St. Brendan of Clonfert; and it is probable that 
the ancient see of Cong was transferred here early in the 
twelfth century. 

St. Brendan, having established a nunnery, and placed his 
sister Briga, a canoness of the Augustinian order, over it, 
died here, but was interred at Clonfert, A.D. 577. Several of 
its bishops are mentioned in the Irish Annals ; but the episco- 
pal lords of the neighbouring diocese of St. Jarlath, and espe- 
cially Archbishop Mac Hugh, feeling perhaps some jealousy on 
the subject, induced Pope John XXII. in 1321 to issue a bull 
to suppress it, and join it to that of Tuam ; and many of its re- 
venues and valuables were transferred to the collegiate church 
of St. Nicholas in Galway. The mandate of the Pontiff does not, 
however, appear to have been implicitly obeyed either by the 
Irish or English ; for some of its bishops are enumerated after 
that date; and, so late as 1484, Richard III. "dispatched to 
Ireland Thomas Barrett, a cleric of Somerset, who had been ap- 



pointed to the bishopric of Enagh-dun, in Connaught, to in- 
struct the Deputy Kildare by all possible means to bring into 
the King's power the Earldom of Ulster, then almost entirely 
possessed by the native Irish." And in order to conciliate the 
Desmond of the day, the Bishop brought a royal message that 
he should "renounce the wearing and usage of the Irish array;" 
and presented him with the King's livery, consisting of a collar 
of gold, weighing twenty ounces ; and from the King's ward- 
robe a lono- o-own of cloth of gold lined with satin, doublets 

CD O c ' 

of velvet and crimson satin ; stomachers, shirts, and kerchiefs ; 
hose of scarlet, violet, and black colours ; bonnets, hats, and 
tippets of velvet, &c* But, gorgeous and enticing as this Eng- 
lish " array" was, it will not bear comparison with that of Cor- 
mac Mac Art many centuries before, as related in the " Book 
of Ballymote ;"f nor of O'Donnell, respecting whose costume 
the Lord Deputy St. Leger, when that Irish chieftain requested 
"Parliament robes," informed the King that — "At such time as 
he mette with me he was in a cote of crymoisin velvet, with 
eggletts of gold, xx or xxx payer. Over that a greate doble 
cote of right crymoisin satin, garded with black velvet ; a bon- 
net, with a fether set full of eggletts of gold, &c." And, as 
regards the twenty ounces of gold sent to tempt the Desmond, 
we had, and still have, far finer and more costly gold orna- 

* See Gilbert's " History of the Viceroys of Ireland," p. 415. 
t See O'Curry's "Lectures on the Manuscript Materials of Ancient Irish 
History," p. 45. 


merits even of Pagan times ; and only the other day an antique 
gold ornament, weighing twenty-six and a-half ounces, was 
procured by the Royal Irish Academy from the county of 

Eventually, the bishopric of Annaghdown was incorporated 
with that of Tuam ; but it does not appear, from the histories, to 
have been given up without a struggle; and the adjoining castle, 
which is probably of De Burgo origin, was significantly placed 
on the south shore of the little creek between the residence of 
the diocesan and his cathedral: while, at the same time, it com- 
manded an extensive view of the country of the O'Flahertys 
towards the west. When the Monastery of Annaghdown was 
suppressed, it was granted to Richard Earl of Clanricarde. 

Not many years ago there was an extensive village here, 
nineteen of the inhabitants of which and the adjoining town- 
lands were drowned near Menlough, when sailing in a rickety 
old boat with their sheep to Galway fair, which event gave 
origin to one of the most mournful of the Irish laments of 
recent days. Now there is but one house remaining, inhabited 
by the man who attends the steamer, and who will act as a 
guide to persons anxious to explore the ruins. 

Passing up the road to the east, we reach the crumbling 
walls, constructed chiefly of round, undressed stones, of an 
extensive monastic building, of which the succeeding illustra- 
tion is a faithful representation. 

Attached to the north side of the monastery is the Abbey 



Church, the west gable and the north walls of which are still 
standing, as also a portion of the south walls at the west, where 
it is supported by a remarkably well-built buttress of dressed 
stone, evidently of much later date. The entire length of this 
Domhnach-mor, or large cathedral church, is 108 feet 9 inches, 
by 21 feet 2 inches broad in the clear, of which space the 
chancel occupies 17J feet by 141, having a reveal of four feet 
on each side. 

The northern entrance, near the western end, which is still 
intact, has a deeply-moulded pointed arch; but that on the south, 
which was probably nearer the east, for the accommodation of 

the clerics, is undistinguishable. The choir arch has also been 
completely destroyed; but several of the stones of the clustered 



pillars that supported it can be seen strewn around, or forming 
headstones to modern graves. Owing to the luxuriant growth 
of the dwarf elder, which has overgrown all the ground in and 
around the ruins, it is difficult in summer time to discover or 
explore the plan of these, as well as those of other ruins that 
are now choked with brambles and underwood. 

During past times here and elsewhere, religious fanaticism, 
and the ignorance and want of taste in the gentry and farming 
classes, or the mischievousness of peasant boys, injured many 
of our most beautiful sacred edifices ; and now, when improved 
education among the former, and depopulation among the latter, 
have arrested these desecrations, weeds, brambles, and wild 
shrubs hold undisputed rule among the historic landmarks of 
the past. Visiting the cultivated demesnes often located in 
the immediate vicinity of some of these Irish ruins, and admir- 
ing the carefully -shaven grass-plots and highly cultivated gar- 
dens and parterres, the antiquary cannot help wondering why 
a few pounds have not been expended upon the preservation of 
edifices once devoted to the service of religion, illustrative of 
the greatest architectural period of the country, and frequently 
containing the mausolea of the ancestors of their proprietors. 
And when, again, we see large sums of money expended on 
erecting ugly unarchitectural structures for religious worship, we 
cannot help asking ourselves why the clergy of Ireland, no 
matter what their special persuasion may be, have done no- 
thino- to re-edify or restore these monuments of the past. 



Clearing away some of the rubbish that had accumulated 
under the site of the chancel arch, we lately discovered two re- 
markable tombstones, both unhappily broken, and without in- 
scriptions ; but each significant of its date and origin — pro- 
bably of the fifteenth century. The succeeding cut is that of an 
unhewn, irregularly shaped flag, 27 inches by 20, lying un- 
derneath a sycamore tree, that nearly fills the choir ; and the 
other, bearing a fleur-de-lis ornament, may be seen at a short 
distance from it. They were both, pro- 
bably, those of ecclesiastics, many no- 
tabilities of which class, especially of 
the O'Malley and Mac Flynn families, 
were buried here. There is one small 
trefoil-headed window in the north wall 
of the long nave, and another narrow 
light in the chancel of this church ; but 
the south light in the latter part is still 
in partial preservation, and its lion's- 
headed impost on the east side is uninjured. A large chasm 
in the wall marks the site of the east window. — See page 71. 

Archdall, in his " Monasticon Hibernicum," published in 
1786, mentions the nunnery at Annaghdown, which, to- 
gether with the town of Kelgel, was, by a bull of Pope Ce- 
lestine III., granted, in 1195, to the nuns of the Order of 
Aroacea ; likewise the Abbey of St. Mary de Porta Patrwn, 


for white nuns of the Premonstre Order (probably the present 
ruin), a Franciscan friary, and the college of St. Brendan. 

To the north-east of the abbey is the nunnery church, 
undoubtedly the oldest structure now remaining at Annagh- 
down, and the west gable of which, with its small bell tower, 
is shown in the general view of the ruins, at page 67. It 
possesses no architectural attraction, nor any means of judg- 
ing of its precise date, except a Gothic pointed doorway in 
the north wall, which portion is still standing, and measures 
90 J feet on the outside. Around it on all sides are ves- 
tiges of stone foundations ; but whether they are the remains 
of the ancient fort or dun, from which, according to some 
interpreters, the place derived its name ; or, as is more 
probable, the walls of the nunnery buildings, it is now diffi- 
cult to determine. 

Still more to the east, and adjoining the road, is St. Co- 
lumbkill's tree, the legend of the miraculous jump of which 
may be learned from the guide ; and to the south stands the 
roofless walls of the parochial Church of England edifice, the 
intervening space between it and the nunnery being used as 
the comparatively modern burial ground. 

After frequent and careful examinations we have been un- 
able to discover any architectural feature claiming a greater 
antiquity for any of these ruins than the fourteenth or fif- 
teenth century — no small primitive Pelasgic church, with its 



square- headed western doorway — no angular-topped window, 
nor any remnant of that peculiar masonry that marked the 
period when St. Brendan died here, or when St. Meldan was 
abbot or " bishop of Lough Orbsen," although it is more 
than probable that the present edifice stands on the site of 
the old. It is stated in the records, that the church of 
Annaghdown was built by Hugh Mor O'Flaherty in 1400, 
and that it was burned eleven years afterwards ; but, pos- 
sibly, the former entry may refer to its re-edification. 

The east window of this cathedral church has been long 
since removed, and nothing now remains there but an irre- 
gular gap in the wall ; there can, however, be little doubt 
that every stone of that beauteous specimen of mediaeval Irish 
work is still in existence ; and thanks to the taste, if not the 
honesty, of the architect of the adjacent Protestant church, 
it will there be found, presenting interiorly, as perfect a con- 
dition as when the adjoining church was unroofed. This 
building, like every other ecclesiastical structure at Annagh- 
down, is a ruin : and its last use — that of a ball-alley — has 
been discontinued for want of Sunday occupants ; and the 
present parish church is some miles distant. This window 
consists of a deeply-splayed circular-headed light, 8 feet 
high in the clear of the opening, and 12 feet high inter- 
nally. The accompanying illustration, from a photograph by 
Mr. Allen, for which I am indebted to the Earl of Dunra- 
ven, who lately accompanied me to this locality, expresses 



better than words the skill of the artist who designed the 
neighbouring abbey. It was drawn by Mr. Wakeman, and 

it has been beautifully engraved by Mr. Oldham. On each 
side of the half round moulding, where the deep splay of 
the window joins the church wall, there is a line of de- 
corated chevrons, in the angles formed by which on both 
sides, are sixty-six floral ornaments, still quite sharp, and 
each different from the rest, and showing the marvellous 
fertility in conception and design of our Irish artists, which 
are so well seen in metal-work and enamel on several of 



our most ancient shrines and croziers, and in the tracings 
on manuscripts, as well as in the limestone decoration of 
many of our churches and castles. Of the latter we have 
a notable example in the banqueting hall at Aughnanure, 
on the opposite shore of the lake, to be described further on. 
The annexed cut shows the base of one of the angles in 
this window. The church 
itself, which cannot be 200 
years old, is, with the 
exception of its northern 
doorway, otherwise wholly 
undecorated. Architects 
acquainted with ' early 
church architecture can- 
not but regard this win- 
dow as one of the most §j 
perfect and beautiful specimens of decorated stone work now 
existing in the island. 

In the "Annals of the Four Masters" we find the follow- 
ing entry :— « A. D. 1238, the Cloictheach of Annadown was 
erected." This is the latest notice of a Chic Teach* " bell 

" The term Cloic- Teach, Bell frie or Bell's house, for the Bound Towers 
was first promulgated by Sir Thomas Molyneux in 1725 ; and he was 
very near to the discovery of all their true uses, although he fell into 
the error propagated by Lynch (" Cambrensis Eversus 1 ') and Walsh, as 
to their Danish construction. His words respecting the " Clogacha, the 


house" or round tower, erected in Ireland, and antiquarians 
have anxiously sought for it ; but after a rigorous scrutiny 
on several occasions, we have not been able to discover the 
slightest vestige of any such structure in or about the ruins 
of Annaghdown ; and the hypothesis that the foregoing no- 
tice might refer to a square belfry like that at Clare- Galway 
Abbey, is quite untenable. We think the difficulty can be 
solved, by introducing to the reader or tourist the remains 
of the beautiful round tower of Kilcoona, in the adjoining 

name by which they are still called among the native Irish," are — " Now the 
Irish does plainly owe its etymology to Clugga, a German-Saxon word, 
that signifies a bell, from whence we also have borrowed our modern 
word, a clock. This appellation also shows the end for which these 
towers were built, — for belfries or steeples, where was hung a bell to call 
the people to religious worship ; but the cavity or hollow space within 
being so narrow, we may conclude the bell must needs be small, one of 
a larger size not having room to ring out or turn round, which argues, 
too, they are ancient ; for the larger bells are an invention of the later 
times, and were not used in the earlier ages of the Church." — See his 
" Discourse concerning the Danish Mounts, Forts, and Towers, in Ire- 
land," which, although first published in 1725, and afterwards with Boate's 
"Natural History of Ireland," was written in 1711, as appears from his 
manuscript which was in my possession when I wrote his memoir in 
the " Gallery of Illustrious Irishmen," No. XIII., which appeared in the 
"Dublin University Magazine" in 1841. The passage from that memoir, 
quoted by Dr. Petrie at page 10 of his great work upon "The Origin and 
Uses of the Round Towers of Ireland," does not particularly refer to the 
Cloictheach, but concerns the stele, or monumental stones or pillars of 
sepulchral origin, and the " mounts erected over soldiers killed in battle." 



small parish of that name, and which has heretofore been un- 
noticed by any writer on the subject. — See page 78. 

Passing round the little creek to the south of the eccle- 
siastical ruins, we reach the walled-in bounteous well of St. 
Brendan, and gain access to the tall, square tower- castle 
figured below, that forms so conspicuous and attractive an 
object, both from the lake and 
land sides all round. It is ex- 
ceedingly well built, and, like 
all the castellated remains in this 
district, batters gradually at 
the base. The entrance, on the 
south face, is by a pointed-arch 
doorway, strongly fortified by =af 
all the defensive contrivances of 
the period, and the character of 
the warfare of the time. To the 
left of the porch is a long flag- 
roofed guard-room and square door. Two other doorways, 
with angle-arched heads open, one into a small chamber, and 
the other into the winding stone stairs that gave access to 
the upper portion of the building. In the roof of the porch 
is the usual poul-na-morrough, through which missiles might be 
poured on those who had so far gained access to the inside. 

In the thickness of the wall is a square tube leading from 
the outer door-jamb, and which was probably used for com- 


municating with those beyond, like a modern acoustic appa- 
ratus. Other flues of a like nature, but larger, exist in dif- 
ferent parts of the building, and also passages formed in the 
thickness of the walls. The corbels that supported the floors 
and the chimney breasts are still in situ, and the garde robe 
is on the north face. Mr. Parker, in his " Essay on the 
Domestic Architecture of Ireland," has given an architectural 
"elevation" of the interior of this castle, from a drawing by 
Mr. Hills. In 1586 "Nicholas Lynch [held] Anaghcoyne." 

To the south of the castle are the remains of an old house, 
said to have been that of the diocesan ; and on the shore, 
to the south-west, is St. Cormack's Well, where " stations" are 
still occasionally performed on Sundays and Fridays. From 
a point between these two last mentioned places, the best 
view of the Annaghdown group of ruins may be obtained. 

Besides those just described, this extensive parish con- 
tains several other objects of antiquarian and historic interest; 
in fact — to use the parlance employed in other writings — 
" too numerous to mention," unless in a minute parochial 
survey. It abounds in raths ; and among its ruins may be 
mentioned — besides Drumgriffm, referred to at page 61 — the 
tall, well-built Castle of Drumboo, with its adjoining Well of 
St. Cyprian, Mace Castle, the old church of Killian, and the 
circular-towered Castle Creevy ; but, except the latter, they 
are either too far distant from the lake to be accessible to the 
tourist, or not of sufficient interest to be dwelt upon. 


To the north-west of the village of Correndulla, in this 
parish, upon a scarped bare rock, surrounded by a dilapidated 
village, stand the ruins of Creevy Castle, originally square, 
with massive circular towers at the corners, somewhat like 
that of Dunmo, upon the left bank of the Boyne ; portions 
of two of these towers still remain, and are well worthy of 
examination. Many legends attach to this old castle, and 
many romantic tales of Creevy-ny-Bourke and her husband, 
George Barry, are still related by the neighbouring peasantry 
to somewhat the following effect : — This chieftainess and her 
husband not agreeing, she sent him down to his fortress near 
Castlebar. Now in the neighbourhood of the castle, in the 
low, boggy district between it and Annaghdown, still exists 
the enchanted lake, called Lough-a-Foor, where lamentations 
are heard in the summer twilight, every seventh year. Out 
of this lake, one summer's day, a young water-horse — the 
Each or Coppul-uisge of Irish fairy tales — coining out to dis- 
port itself, was captured by the lady's retainers, who car- 
ried him off to the castle, where he was shut up in the stable 
for some time ; but no one could be found to ride him. So 
the lady had to send for her discarded spouse, who was a 
celebrated equestrian. He came ; and some green moss was 
tied on the eyes of the w T ater-horse, so that he might not 
see where he was going. Off rode the horseman ; and, find- 
ing the beast willing and fleet, was unwise enough to take 
the covering from off its eyes, upon which it dashed for- 


ward, and slew the rider, leaving portions of him at different 
places, and the remainder at Leaght George, referred to at 
page 60, where his leaght or stone monument was erected 
that has given name to the locality. It then dashed back to 
Lough-a-Foor, and, having plunged into the waves of its 
native element, has not been seen or heard of since. These 
legends respecting the Irish water-horse will be more parti- 
cularly described in the Appendix upon the Zoology. 

A deep bay borders the north-west margin of Annagh- 
down parish, as far as the mills of Killroe, where the parish 
of KlLCOONA abuts upon Lough Corrib. Passing eastward from 
which, and crossing the main road from Galway to Headford, 
by Ballinduff, the seat of Mr. Gunning, and near Cahermor- 
ris, the residence of Mr. Crampton, through a country studded 
with raths and cahers, we reach the little church and burial 
ground of St. Coona, nearly in the centre of the enclosure 
of which stands the "butt" of the Round Tower, which I am 
inclined to believe is that referred to by the annalists as hav- 
ing been erected in 1238 ; and the illustration of which, from 
a photograph taken under the direction of Lord Dunraven, on 
the occasion of our visit in September, 1866, is here afforded. 
It stands upon a double plinth, and is now 8 feet high and 
52 feet 9 inches in girth ; and when I say that it was origi- 
nally one of the most beautifully built round towers in Ire- 
land, I do not think I will be accused of exaggeration by 
those who have given the subject consideration. The stone-. 



some of which upon the lower course are 5 feet 2 inches 
long, of a yellowish white limestone, are dressed, cambered 
on the outside, and laid in regular courses ; and in some in- 
stances, as may be seen in the engraving, cut into each other, 

after the manner of the ancient Cyclopean masonry. No 
vestige of the doorway remains, as the present top is below 
the level of the usual site of that portion of a Cloictheach or 
Irish round tower, but it was probably on the east face. The 
interior of the tower is at present a solid mass of clay and 
stones, from which some luxuriant ivy has thrown its pro- 
jecting arms around the ruin, and at the same time added to 
its picturesque effect. A few of the dressed stones of the 
tower form the headstones to modern graves ; but Mr. Gun- 
ning, the present enlightened proprietor of the property on 
which it stands, has kindly undertaken to restore them to their 
original sites, and thus preserve this ancient monument from 
further destruction for centuries to come. 


We abstain from all discussion respecting the origin and 
uses of the round towers of Ireland, as it remains for those 
who dispute their Christian origin — now so generally ac- 
cepted by the learned — to answer, in the first instance, the 
as yet uncontradicted statements and arguments so forcibly 
brought forward by the late Dr. Petrie. It is questionable 
whether the round tower of Kilcoona was ever completed ; 
but at present we are unable to adduce any fact, or offer any 
argument thereon. Is it the veritable Cloightheach referred to 
by the Four Masters, as having been erected at Annaghdown 
sixty-six years after the Anglo-Norman invasion ? There 
is every probability of such being the fact ; as Kilcoona 
parish was in the diocese and immediate district of Annagh- 
down, and about three miles in a direct line from the cathe- 
dral. The single entry referring to it is very short and meagre, 
and merely mentions the locality as Enagh-dun, and may 
refer to the diocese or district where there are several 
Enaghs or Annaghs giving names to townlands, as well as 
to the locality of the abbey and nunnery upon the shores of 
the lake. 

The long, narrow parish of Kilcoona, running nearly north 
and south between those of Annaghdown and Killeany, oc- 
cupies about two miles of lake shore, and is crossed by the 
high road between Galway and Headford. 

It is remarkable that neither in the maps nor letters con- 
nected with the Ordnance Survey, nor any work published 


previous to this, has the round tower of Kilcoona been no- 
ticed. A few paces to the north-east are the ruined walls 
of a church, <o() feet 5 inches long, and 24 feet wide outside, 
with the gables still standing ; but there are no carved stones 
throughout the building that afford us any means of con- 
jecturing its date. Archdall says : " Tipraid, Prince of Hy- 
fiachria, granted the abbey of Killchunna to -St. Columb, who 
placed St. Cuannan over it ; he was maternal brother to St. 
Carthag, and was afterwards removed to the abbey of Lis- 
more. This is now [1786] a parish church." 

St. Cuanna, or Coona, who was born towards the close 
of the sixth century, was a son of Midarnus, son of Dubh- 
ratpa, son of Ennius, son of Niall of the Nine Hostages, the 
great King of Ireland. His mother was Meda, or Finneda, 
daughter of Fingen, a nobleman in the western district of 
Munster, and whose origin was derived from the tribe and 
territory of Corca-duibhne. She is said to have been the 
mother of four distinguished men, the first of whom, Cartha- 
gius, son of Findallus, was Abbot of Rathen, in Meath, and 
afterwards Bishop of Lismore, in Munster. The second, St. 
Cuanna, whose festival and natal day is the 4th of February, 
f*om being a monk of Lismore, became " Abbot of the Mo- 
nastery of Kill-chuanna, in the western district of Connaught." 
He is said to have died about the year (550, and is reputed 
to have written a chronicle of his own time, or Annals of 
Ireland, up to A. D. 628 ; for Sir James Ware, in his "Writers 



of Ireland," thus refers to him — " Cuan, or Cuanach, is an 
author often quoted in the Annals of Ulster as low down as 
the year 628, but not afterwards, by the name of the Book 
of Cuan, or Cuanach, from whence I conjecture that he was 
the author of a chronicle, and flourished about this time." 
There were, however, other Coonas of a later date. In the 
fragments of his history collected in the Acta Sanctorum many 
prodigies are recorded, especially as to his manner of cross- 
ing the lake upon a flat stone with his followers from Gno- 
more ; but it is also stated that he collected around him, at 
his church and monastery of Kilcoonagh, a great number of 
learned Christian men, when the whole of this region, from 
Clare-Galway to Cong, was fertile with piety, learning, and 
art. Some members of the reformed churches may sneer at 
the history of those good men, who, professing the pure faith 
and doctrine of Patrick, " once delivered to the saints," went 
forth as missionaries among the wild, half pagan natives of 
the West, to Christianize, civilize, and instruct ; and who left 
their names, and in many instances their monuments, in these 
parishes. But sifting the marvellous from the probable, or 
possible, and allowing for the age in which these facts or 
traditions were written, it may possibly appear that those 
missionaries were as pure in their lives, as unselfish, as scrip- 
tural in their doctrine, and as useful in their generation as 
those sent out at immense expense in our own days to Chris- 
tianize the Pagan, the Mahometan, or the Buddhist. 


The local tradition is to the effect, that Saints Eany and 
Fursoeus, who gave names to the adjoining parishes, were 
sons of Meda, and brothers of Cuanna, but the hagiology is 
is not clear upon the subject. The saint's well, called Dab- 
hach Chuana, formerly much frequented by pilgrims, lies in 
the adjacent townland of Knockreen. 

Within Mr. Gunning's demesne of BallindufT stands an old 
castle of the Skerritts, where a fierce contest took place in 
1469 between Clanricarde and O'Donnell ; and in 1586 it 
was held by " Mac Walter, called Thomas M'Henry." Not 
far distant, in the wood by the roadside, is shown a stone 
bearing the footprint of a bull, concerning which there are 
many legends afloat.* 

* The tale is by popular tradition brought down to a late date, when 
Donnall Cam, who was cowherd to the lord of the neighbouring castle, and 
one evening saw a strange bull visiting one of his cows. It left its track in 
the rock, where it is still seen ; and the herd having related the circum- 
stance to his master, he was desired to keep the " beastings " for him ; 
but, tasting some of them himself, he became a prophet or soothsayer, or 
was endowed with the gift of second sight. According to another version, 
this bull and cow were the first seen in that part of the country. This 
story adds another to the many legendary tales respecting cattle in Ire- 
land See the Author's " Essay on the Unmanufactured Animal Remains 

in Ireland," and also that upon the " Ancient Oxen of Ireland," in the 
Proceedings of the Royal Irish Academy. 

With reference to Castle Creevy, referred to at page 77, the following 
version of the legend has been furnished me : — George Barry was the son 
of the Widow Burke, who had a farm convenient to Lough Afoor, the 
land of Avhich she had well cultivated. When the corn grew up, it was 
terribly damaged every night, although no one knew what ate it. The 

G 2 


To the north of Annaghdown, and the west of Kilcoona, 
is the parish of KlLLEANEY, which, although not large, occu- 
pies a considerable extent of the lake's margin. It derives 
its name from Eidhne, or Eaney (a very common name for- 
merly in the West), who, as already stated, is said to have 
been the brother of Coona and Fursseus ; but, after investi- 
gating the subject, O'Donovan has left the following record: — 
" This St. Einne is the famous Endeus of Aranmore." The 
parish is sometimes called Clocli-an-Uabliair (pronounced 
Clough-an-our), "The Stone of Pride," which, with the adjoin- 
ing castle of the same name, can be seen on the roadside, 
between Clare-Galway and Headford ; and there is a tradition 
of a celebrated witch, called Cailleach-an- Uabhair, " The Hag 
of Pride," who cast this stone hither from a distant hill, and 
left the marks of her thumb and three fingers upon it.* It 

field was watched ; and then, in the dead of night, a number of horses 
were seen to rise out of the lake, and come to graze on the young corn. 
The watchers captured one of them, which remained at Castle Creevy 
for a year and a day, until taken out to hunt by the young master ; and, 
having got a glimpse of its native element, it became furious, and per- 
petrated the catastrophe referred to in the text. Shortly afterwards a 
female was seen rising out of the lake, who told the neighbours that the 
horse was enchanted ; and that, if it had been kept one day longer in con- 
finement, the enchantment would have ceased. 

* These ancient stone markings, cups, foot and finger prints, circles, 
lozenges, volutes, &c, such as I figured and described many years ago 
upon the monuments of the Boyne, are now receiving the attention they 
deserve ; and the subject has lately been investigated with great care by 
Sir James Y. Simpson, Bart., of Edinburgh, in his beautiful work upon 
• Archaic Sculptures," just published. 


lies a few paces to the south of the castle. The old church 
and saints well are to the south-east of the castle, but present 
no features of interest. Near this castle passes a very "tempt- 
ing" stream for the angler, which carries off the water from 
Doolough, and some of the eastern turloghs, and delivers it- 
self into a deep adjoining bay of Lough Corrib. 

At the northern extremity of this parish, and on the high 
road from Galway to Cong, although not within the paro- 
chial boundary, stands the little town of Headford, still called 
in Irish Ath-Cuinn, tc The Head of the Ford," which contained 
993 inhabitants in 1861. Beside it is the beautiful residence 
and extensive demesne of R. M. St. George, Esq. 

Near the shore, opposite Lee's Island, which the steamer 
passes on the starboard side, there is an ancient stone fort 
called Caher-Aidne, and, like all the other parishes along the 
lake, numerous caves, lisseens, raths, and cairns can be seen 
therein. The island contains 4-7J acres, and was in former 
days a scene, as well as the cause, of a memorable dispute be- 
tween the O'Flahertys and the O'Lees. 

We now pass between the parishes of Cargin and Killannin, 
and approach the Ferry of Knock, where the lake narrows 
to about a quarter of a mile in width. This was formerly 
the chief passage between Iar Connaught and Connemara, on 
the south-west ; and the barony of Clare, in Galway, and the 
Mayo side of the lake, on the north-east. Upon the northern 
side there is a low shrubby growth of hazel, giving it the name 


of Kylcbeg, or " the little wood ;" and at the pier here the 
steamer stops for a short time. It is in the parish of Cargin, 
which will occupy our attention in the next chapter. The 
transit here was formerly effected by a large flat-bottomed boat 
or float, capable of holding carriages and cattle ; but foot pas- 
sengers were taken across in small boats. It has been proposed 
to construct a causeway and bridge at this point, and such 
would certainly be a great convenience to the counties of 
Mayo and Galway on either side of the lake ; but at the same 
time it is fair to add, that it should be an imperial, or at 
least a national, not a local undertaking. There are also some 
engineering objections to the proposed site ; but these might 
be got rid of by choosing a better one, a little to the north- 
west. Should, however, the distress which, it is said, now 
threatens West Connaught and Connamara, extend, no more 
useful public work could be desired for this district. 





The parish of Cargin, although small in extent, is one of 
great interest in an historic and pictorial point of view. It 
extends eastwards between that of Killeany, on the south- 
east, and Killursa, on the north-west, over a space about 
three miles long, and one broad ; but, owing to the wooded 
promontories of Kylebeg and Clydagh, its shore margin is of 
much greater extent ; and between these projections, a deep 
bay passes inwards for about three quarters of a mile. 

The old church of this parish is of no great interest or 
antiquity, and neither to it nor to this parish itself is the 
term "Kill" applied, but the ruin is called Seipid-a- Cargin, 
"The Chapel of Cargin," and in all probability it was a 
chapel of ease to some of the saints' churches in the neigh- 
bouring parishes. Around it are the remains of a circular 
rath, and beside it a Killeeir, or children's burial ground, of 



which class of cemetery there are great numbers in the West, 
but especially along the shores of Loughs Corrib and Mask.* 
The ruined Castle of Cargin, here presented, stands on an 
eminence at the extremity of the little bay, and, with the ad- 
joining islet, helps to form, with its ivy-mantled walls, a very 
picturesque group when viewed from the steamer's deck. 
Thanks to the good taste of the present proprietor, the con- 

dition of this castle forms a striking contrast with that of 
the great majority of ancient castles along our route, which 

* Killeen, a "little church"— applied to diminutive graveyards, nearly 
always used for children, and generally for those -who have died unbap- 
tized, respecting which many curious popular superstitions are still alcat 
in the minds of the ignorant. 



for the most part are used as barns, stables, or cowhouses. 
There is no history, nor are there any legends attaching to 
this ancient castle, which measures externally 40 feet by 30.* 
In the little bay in front stands lniscreawa, or "wild- 
garlic Isle," where, says O'Flaherty, in his " West Con- 
naught," " the walls and high ditch of a w T ell-fortified place 
are still extant, and encompass almost the whole island. 
Of this isle Macamh lniscreawa, a memorable antient magi- 
cian, as they say, had his denomination. Anno 1225, the 
Lord Justice of Ireland, coming into the port of lniscreawa, 
caused Odo O'Flaherty, Lord of West Connaught, to deliver 
that island, Kirke Island, and all the boats of Lough Orbsen, 
into the hands of Odo O'Connor, King of Connaught (Ca- 
thald Redfist's son), for assurance of his fidelity." 

The great uncemented Cyclopean stone fort to which this ex- 

* In the State Paper styled " The Division of Connaught," already 
referred to at page 49, it is said that in 1586 William Gaynard held the 
Castle of Carigin ; Mac Eeamon Clcghenwoyr ; Moyler Mae Reamon, An- 
aghkyne ; Tybbot Lyogh, Loscananon ; UUig Eogh, Drum griffin ; "Walter 
fitz-Ab, fitz-Ed., Masse;" and M>Walter's sept, Cahrinorite ; all of which 
are referred to in this work. 


tract refers still encircles the brow of the little island, as shown 
in the foreging illustration, for which, as well as that of Cargin 
Castle, the author is indebted to Miss E. Lynch-Staunton ; but 
the scrubby brushwood around it partially obscures the masonry, 
which stands over a deep trench or fosse, that must have ren- 
dered its capture a matter of much difficulty before the general 
introduction of fire arms. In all probability it served like a 
crannoge to guard Cargin Castle, or as a safe refuge for the 
persons and valuables of its inmates, or those of the surround- 
ing country. There can, however, be no doubt that this struc- 
ture belongs to the days of the unmortared duns, cahers, and 
cashels long prior to the date of the Anglo-Norman invasion. 
The walls average 6 feet thick, and are still 10 J feet high ; 
but the stones of which they are composed, owing in all 
probability to the fact of their having been carried from the 
neighbouring mainland, are of comparatively small size. They 
enclose an oval space of 144 yards in circumference ; and the 
doorway is on the east or land side, where the ditch is level 
to afford means of access. The present name of the island on 
the Ordnance Map is Illaun-Carbery, because a fanatic named 
Carbery lived for many years during the last century in a 
hut he built for himself within the enclosure. 

To the foregoing notice of the depredations upon Lough 
Corrib in early times may be added the following, A. D. 929: — 
" The Danes of Limerick took possession of Lough Orbsen, 
and pillaged its islands." A. D. 1061 the OTlahertys of the 
adjoining territory ofMagh Scola, already referred to at page 


19, took possession of Lough Orbsen, and expelled Hugh 
O'Conor ; and in 1224, after the death of Cathal Crove- 
dearg, the red-handed son of King Turlough, and during the 
contentions between the O'Conors of Connaught, Hugh, the 
son of Cathal, compelled the 'Flaherty s to deliver up this 
island, as referred to in the foregoing extract. 

In 1233 Felim O'Conor, King of Connaught, " demolished 
the castles of Kirk Island, Galway, Hag Island, and Dono- 
man." Again, " in 1256 Walter De Burgo, Lord of Con- 
naught, and first Earl of Ulster, marched against Roderick 
'Flaherty, plundered the territories of Gnomore and Gno- 
beg, west of Lough Orbsen, and took possession of the lake, 
its islands and castles. These he fortified, and by that means 
considerably increased the power of the English in Connaught." 
In all probability it was at this period, and from thence up 
to 1450, that the great majority of the De Burgo castles in 
this western district were built or remodelled. 

As this ancient fortress of Iniscreawa is the first of its 
class to which the visitor or the reader has been introduced, 
a word respecting the style of architecture of its period may 
not be out of place. The ancient architectural remains which 
occur in our route are of two classes — Pao-an and Christian. 
The former are chiefly monumental, sepulchral, and military, 
or that form of building that served for domestic and defen- 
sive purposes, and most of them belong to the prehistoric period ; 
so that of the precise date of their erection, or even the many 


centuries included in the cycle during which they were con- 
structed, we have no more means of judging than we have of 
those of Stonehenge, or of similar structures elsewhere through- 
out the world. A few are referred to in history, but the 
chronology of the annalists as to the period of their construc- 
tion is questionable. The space of time over which they 
extend must have been very great, but they are nearly all of 
the same type : cairn, circle, cashel, cave, cloughaun, and 
pillar stone, are but repetitions of the same idea, and show 
no material advance, nor any progress towards the develop- 
ment of a higher order of art, or greater aptitude of purpose 
in their construction, from century to century. They were all 
built without mortar or cement, and usually of very large 
blocks of stone. That some of them were occupied and de- 
fended, even after the Anglo-Norman invasion, there can be 
no doubt, as such circumstances are stated in history. The 
earthen raths and lisses are in a like category. The opinion 
as to the Danish origin of these ancient structures, which has 
so long obtained credence in this country that it has become 
a " popular superstition," is beginning to fade ; and will in 
time, as investigation extends and knowledge increases, be 
obliterated.* If by " Danes " are meant the very early fair- 
complexioned Tuatha de Danann colonists, who, it is said, 
came back to us from the north of Europe, the association 

* See the Author's "The Beauties of the Boyne," 2nd edition, p. 70. 


may be congruous ; but if by the Danes is implied the Norse- 
men, who commenced their invasions in the middle of the ninth 
century, and held sway in parts of Ireland until conquered at 
Clontarf, it is an egregious mistake. 

Of the latter, or Christian edifices, we have the ruins of 
the ancient castles, or fortified dwellings, extending from the 
twelfth to the seventeenth century, and some few of the mo- 
dern mansions of the present time ; but the objects of most 
interest in this class are the ecclesiastical remains of oratories, 
churches, abbeys, convents, monasteries, crosses, and monu- 
mental stones, &c. ; and to many of these we are able, either 
from an examination of their architecture, or from absolute 
history, to assign a date. Of late it has become the fashion 
to ignore early Irish architecture, and assign a twelfth century 
date, and a Norman origin to every carved, moulded, punched, 
or chiselled stone found in connexion with our ecclesiastical 
and Christian monuments. That there was a very wide-spread 
and improved taste in ecclesiastical architecture and stone de- 
coration throughout North-western Europe from the year 1000 
to 1200, and that it was chiefly exhibited in Normandy, is ad- 
mitted : and that that taste found its way into Ireland, and 
subsequently influenced artistic design here, is equally true. 
But so long as the elaborately decorated doors and sculptured 
effigies on some of our round towers, and the sculptured crosses 
at Monasterboice, Cashel, Clonmacnoise, Kells, and other 
places, some of them bearing inscriptions denoting the date of 
their erection, remain ; and so long as we possess the early 


churches of Raheen, Killaloe, Cormac's Chapel at Cashel, and 
the church at Irmiscaltra, which it is said was remodelled by 
Brian Boromhe in the early part of the eleventh century ; and 
while there are before us the sculptures on Devenish Tower, Do- 
noghmore, and (very probably), those in the Saint's Church at 
Inchangoill ; and until we find a counterpart, or even the crud- 
est idea elsewhere, of that peculiar Irish tracery which adorns 
same of our early churches, crosses, tombs, shrines, and crosiers, 
&c, it may be assumed that during the three centuries prece- 
ding 1172 we had in Ireland men with taste and wealth to pay 
for, artists capable of designing, and tradesmen competent to 
the task of producing such works, in either stone, metal, or 
enamel. Our still remaining specimens of early Irish art afford 
irrefragable proofs of such culture ; and until it is proved that 
the pre-Christian antiques in the Museum of the Royal Irish 
Academy are of foreign origin ; or until those " twelfth-cen- 
tury" advocates have controverted the foregoing statements, it 
is unnecessary to descant further on the subject in a work 
merely intended to direct the steps of the tourist through a 
region hitherto but scantily explored, and to rescue from ob- 
livion, or preserve from desecration, some of the historic 
monuments of the country. 

About two miles east of the lake, in this parish, stands 
Cahergal, or " Whitefort," one of the finest specimens of ancient 
military architecture on the mainland of Ireland, and which can 
easily be reached by the roads leading from Kylebeg or Cly- 
dagh to Ileadford. From its colour it gives its English name 



to the townland, as, for similar reasons, we meet with the names 
of Roundfort and Darkfort, &c, in other localities. 

This magnificent circular Cyclopean building, a portion of 
the external face of which is well shown in the subjoined illus- 
tration, encloses a space of 137 feet in diameter ; and its massive 

walls of unhewn stone, of a whitish hue, from the lichens cover- 
ing them, are 9 feet 4 inches thick, and, although lowered in 
many places, still average 7 feet 7 inches high. 

The entrance on the south-eastern side, over the road 
leading to a farm house, is 7 feet 6 inches wide ; its external 
jambs, measuring 5 feet 8 inches over ground, are each 5 feet 
broad, and 21 inches thick. Inside, on the south-east, is a 
flight of three massive steps, figured on the next page, which 
probably led to a parapet, as at Stague fort, in Kerry. Within 
the enclosure there are the remains of several intersecting walls : 
but, as the space is grass-grown, it is difficult to say whether 



they are the ruins of Clouyhaunes,* or the top structures of 
caves, of the existence of which there is a tradition. 

Of this class of de- 
fensive building, erect- 
ed, in all probability, 
in the days of the 
Belgic and Danann co- 
lonization, like those 
in the western Isles 
of Aran, no question 
need be asked the 
peasant ; for his only reply will be, " Ogh, sure, it was rned 
by the giants in ancient times, or maybe by the Danes ; any- 
way it's there as long as I remember, or my father afore me, 
or any of the ould people about." Fairy occupation is never 
associated with these structures, although every green fort, 
rath, and lisheen (probably of earlier origin), is still in the 
imagination and traditional folk lore of our remaining rural 
population inhabited by " the good people." 

In the valley to the south of this great caher (which term 
is fully explained by this structure), there is said to have 

* Cloughaunes are small unccmented, or dry-wall huts, generally cir- 
cular or oval in shape, and having their domed stone roofs constructed 
with flags gradually projecting inwards like those of some of the Pyra- 
mids—and the tumuli of Newgrange and Dowth, &c. They abound in 

the Aran Isles, and in Kerry See Mr. I)u Noyer's account of the city of 

Fahiri, and the author's Catalogue of Antiquities in the Royal Irish 
Academy, &c. 



existed two similar stone works, the sites of which are pointed 
out ; and it is reported that one of them afforded building 
materials for the barracks of Headford, some years ago. 

To return to our itinerary — on the northern shore of the 
little bay containing Iniscreawa, and turning round by the 
south-east margin of the lake, with a sloping green sward 
running down to the water's edge, and surrounded by well- 
grown timber, and tastefully laid out pleasure grounds, stands 
Clydagh, the handsome residence of George Lynch-Staunton, 
Esq., of which the subjoined woodcut, taken from a photo- 
graph, is a faithful representation. 

- ^- : ^r*^ti'^**J , =^i 

Mr. Lynch-Staunton descends from the ancient Anglo- 
Norman family of De Staunton, of whom Sir Malger was the 
head in 1129. The present proprietor of Clydagh assumed 
(under the will of his relative, Sir G. Staunton, Bart.), the 
name of Staunton, in addition to that of Lynch, in 1859. 

TVe read, that " Among the Englyshe greate rebelles of 



Connaught in 1515 were Syr Myles Staunton's sonnes." Some 
of the Stonduns of Mayo, after the death of Edmund Burke, 
in 1338, were so much ashamed of the transaction, that they 
assumed the name of Mac Evilly — Mac a Mhilid, " Son of 
the Knight."* 

A part of the extensive demesne of Mr. St. George, of 
Headford, already referred to at p. 85, is within this parish ; 
and to the west of the Gal way road, near where it joins that 
of Killursa, may be seen a remarkable ancient enclosure, with 
several standing stones circling the brow of a small hill, and 
called Lisheennabasty, or the " little fort of the serpent," or 


KlLLURSA — properly Kill-Fursa, in commemoration of Fur- 
sseus, a celebrated Irish saint and traveller — margins Lough 
Corrib, in continuation of Cargin, on the south ; and forms 
the terminal parish of the barony of Clare, and county of Gal- 
way, on its eastern shore. Its northern boundary is the Owen- 
duff, or " Black Eiver," which, passing under ground below 
Shrule, rises again to the surface to the east of the castle of 

* See description of Oilean-an-Iarla in Lough Mask ; also Hardiman's 
Notes to O'Flaherty's " H-Iar Connaught," p. 47. 

f Peast, "a worm, 1 ' serpent, or beast, like the Latin bestia, is a term 
that frequently enters into topographical names in Ireland. Worm holes — 
poul na peasti — are common, and applied to deep caverns with water at 
bottom. Although St. Patrick " gave the frogs and toads a twist, and 
banished all the varmin," there are still traditions of water serpents in 
abundance ; but, like the great sea serpent, these animals have not been 
seen of late. 

ST. FUBSA. 99 

Moyne, and, running by the ruins of Ross, enters the lake 
about a mile beyond the castle of Annakeen. Irish hagio- 
logy abounds with notices of the Christian celebrities of this 
district in the sixth and seventh centuries. In the large Island 
of Inchiquin, belonging to this parish, and now on our star- 
board quarter, it is stated that St. Brendan founded a religious 
establishment, which was afterwards increased by St. Meldan, 
of the Hua-Cuinn family, from whom the Island of Inch-in- 
Cuinn took its name. Fintan, King of Munster, with his Queen, 
Gelgies, daughter of the King of Connaught, in consequence 
of some troubles in his province, fled to Lough Orbsen, and 
was hospitably entertained by his relative, Brendan ; and while 
residing with him in his Cella Hospitum at Rathmath, in Inchi- 
quin, had a son, who was christened Fursa, or Fursa3us. He 
flourished between A. D. 584 and 652, and his festival is kept 
on the 16th of January ; but several other days are given 
in Irish ecclesiastical writings for that event. He is said tra- 
ditionally to have had two brothers, Eidne or Ainey, and 
Coona, who have given names to the adjoining parishes of 
Killeany and Kilcoona, as stated at page 83. 

Killursa is now united with Car gin, and also with Killannin 
on the opposite shore of the lake, in the Roman Catholic Union 
of Headford, at present occupied by the Rev. Peter Conway, 
to whose zeal and energy his parishioners are indebted for 
the erection of St. Mary's at Headford, one of the handsomest 
rural chapels in Ireland, built at a cost of about £4000, chiefly 

collected in America. 

H 2 



The steamer, in her course along the lake, approaches suffi- 
ciently near this parish to give us a good view of the castle of 
Annakeen, especially in the down trip ; as, passing upwards, a 
knoll of land projecting into the lake obscures the prospect. 
Landing in a small bay, guarded on the north by the little 
bluff island of Bull's Eye, now quite green, but the major 
portion of which is probably artificial, and which, in all like- 

lihood, occupied towards the adjoining castle the same relation, 
as regards defence and security, which Iniscreawa did with re- 
spect to the castle of Cargin (see page 89), we stand upon the 
parish of Killursa ; and a few paces bring us to the walls of 
this very ancient castle, figured in the preceding cut, taken 
from a photograph by Mr. O'Reilly, kindly supplied by the 
Rev. Mr. Conway. 


It is a square keep, the outer walls of which are perfect, 
except upon the north side. That upon the lake or west side 
is 46 feet long ; and that on the south, here represented, is 
50 feet. There are also some remains of the outer enclosure, 
and the whole is surrounded by a very beautiful park of the 
finest land, ornamented with some aged ash. Of all the castles 
surrounding Lough Corrib, this would appear from its masonry 
to be the oldest-; for, although it has not been dilapidated for 
building purposes, it is not possible to find in or around it a 
single dressed stone of any description ! the quoins, door- 
ways, and window openings being, with the walls, both within 
and without, all formed of undressed stone. Perhaps there is 
not in the British Isles a similar example of such admirably 
constructed masonry of its class and period. At the north- 
west corner there is a square tower, and probably a similar 
one existed on the north-east. All the outer walls of this 
structure are six feet thick, and contain passages leading to the 
upper apartments and the parapet. Some of the arches of the 
windows and doors are circular, and others pointed ; but all 
ingeniously constructed with stones to which a hammer or chisel 
was never applied — in like manner as in the arch of the east 
window in the beautiful old church of Cross, and as we find in 
other localities where the great abundance and variety in form 
of the surrounding limestone afforded ample materials for any 
description of building, and the ingenuity of the artists was 
equal to the task of rendering them subservient to architec- 


tural purposes. Even to the present day, every man in this 
and the adjoining limestone districts is more or less a ma- 

Among the structural peculiarities of this castle is that of 
having upon the outer face of the ground story small, low, 
arched apertures leading into guard rooms or sentry cells, 
but in other instances communicating with the walled passages 
above. The marking of the wattled centring upon which 
the arches were laid, so many centuries ago, shows the great 
strength of the mortar used at the time of their erection ; for 
it is as hard and sharp as when the basket-work, on which 
it was raised, was removed ; and in the upper apartment of 
the north-west tower the roof is perfectly flat. 

As there is no stone now remaining at Annakeen to afford 
us a clue to the date of its erection, neither is there any his- 
tory which throws much light upon the subject. That, how- 
ever, it was a place of note in very early times, may be 
learned from the fact that in 1324 Sir William, or Ulick De 
Burgh, the first Mac William Ouehter, son of Sir William the 
Grey, and the progenitor of the Glan-Eickard, was called " Ul- 
cus de Anaghkeen ;" and certainly the architecture of the castle 
may with safety be ascribed to a date live and a half centu- 
ries ago.* 

* In 1586 Nicholas Lynch was possessed of the Castle of "Annaghcoyne ;" 
and when, in 1619, .lames I. confirmed the possession of the Castle Hackel 
estate to the Burkes of that place, as was done to all Irish proprietors who 


In the immediate vicinity stands the unfinished residence 
of B. O'Flaherty, Esq., of Galway ; but the lord of the soil 
is Captain Carter, whose family once possessed the greater 
portion of the lands in this locality, and the unfinished house 
of one of whose ancestors, called by the country people Teach 
Carter, may be seen on the lake shore opposite Inchiquin. 

Here, as elsewhere throughout Ireland, the ruins are grouped 
with others of different eras and uses. A little to the east of 
the old castle there are the vestiges of the church and burial 
ground of St. Cronin ; and a short distance to the north-east 
thereof a considerable cairn, which may be seen from the lake, 
crowns an eminence in a neighbouring field; while, following 
the inland road, we soon arrive at Doonaun Fort and Eynagh 
graveyard, in the townland of Carrowakil, on the south of the 
road opposite which there is one of those early Pagan structures 
known as " giants' graves," and here significantly called by 
the people Leabliy-an-Fear-mor — the bed or "grave of the big 
man." The fort has recently been in great part obliterated, 
although a few of the lar^e flagstones are still standing; and, 
as it is asserted that human bones of large dimensions were 
found in it, I may here remark that no human bones of a 
gigantic size were ever found in an Irish burial place, either 
ancient or modern. The Leabhy crowns a little mammillary 

surrendered their estates for the purpose of getting a new title to them, and 
erected the same, the Manor of Castle Hacket, the castle and lands of 
Annakeen are included in the list of lands forming it. 


elevation, and consists of an oblong enclosure, running nearly 
cast and west, and having at the eastern end several of the 
large upright flagstones still remaining. These " giants' graves" 
are not uncommon, although not of such frequent occurrence 
as the stone circles, the inner enclosure of which originally 
supported the hive-shaped domes. 

Passing beside Clover Hill in an easterly direction, by 
St. Kieran's Well, and through a group of ancient forts and 
raths, we reach the extensive graveyard and ruined church 
of Killursa, erroneously styled on the Ordnance Map Kilda- 
ree, from the neighbouring townland of that name, although 
O'Donovan, in his letters, has given a distinct description of 
it, as well as a drawing of the western doorway, which forms 
a remarkable feature of this ruin. All the walls are still 
standing, although considerably dilapidated ; it was of the 
Daimhlaig-mor class of church, and measures 70 feet 6 inches, 
by 24 feet on the outside. The southern doorway is a pointed 
arch ; and the east window, which, compared with the extent 
of the building, is of unusual height, was a fine specimen of 
pointed Gothic architecture, and was probably erected in the 
sixteenth century ; it is 11 feet 6 inches high, and 3 feet 
4 inches in the clear. The well-cut stone mullions still re- 
main ; but the outer spaces were built up years ago, when, 
perhaps, the poverty or persecution of the parishioners pre- 
vented its repair. A cross wall cuts off 9 feet 4 inches of 
the western end, which portion was probably occupied in 


later times by the officiating priest or friar. A similar wall 
exists in the little church of Ross Hill, at Lough Mask. 

The characteristic feature of this church is the small square- 
headed sloping-jambed doorway, near the southern angle of 
the western gable, of the great antiquity of which there can 
be no doubt ; and which is probably a remnant of the early 
church founded here by St. Fursa, when, disgusted with the 
state of affairs at Inchiquin, he came over to the mainland, 
and established a religious house in this parish. The dimen- 
sions of this doorway are — 5 feet 4 inches in height, 2 feet 
wide at top, and 2 feet 5 inches at the bottom. Nearly all the 
stones of its sides occupy the entire thickness of the wall, 
which here measures 2 feet, and are undressed on the ends ; 
but upon the inside they are all perfectly smooth, as if they had 
been first put in their places in a rough state, and were then 
sawn or rubbed down into their present condition. The lintel, 
which is a rough, unhewn, weather-worn flag, 3 feet 8 inches 
long, does not appear to have been part of the original struc- 
ture, and is quite incongruous with the rest of the doorway, 
in openings of which class the lintel is generally of great size 
and thickness. The probability is that, in the original church, 
this doorway stood in the centre of the west gable ; and that 
when, in the process of centuries, the present church was re- 
constructed on the site of the old, it was enlarged towards 
the north, as well as in length, the doorway being left in 
situ, and the present lintel placed upon it. 


These square-headed, so-called Cyclopean doorways, with 
sloping sides, are characteristic of our very early Irish churches ; 
although, as in the case of that at Inishmain, on Lough Mask, 
they are occasionally associated with the florid architecture of 
a much more recent period, and evidently of foreign intro- 
duction. They abound in the Lough Corrib district, as at 
Kilcathail, below Knockdoe,* Kilfraughaun, Inishmain, Ross 
Hill, Inchangoill, and Killannin. 

There are no materials whereby we can reproduce a pic- 
ture of Irish public or domestic architecture beyond that of 
the dun, cash el, cave, fort, caher, or cloughaun, the togher, 
pillar stone, Druidical religious circle, the cromleach, or the 
sepulchral monument, at the time when St. Patrick served as a 
bondsman or swine feeder to Milchu, one of the chieftains 
of Dalaradia, in the beginning of the fifth century. The peo- 
ple worshipped in the open air, under the spreading oak, 
around the stone enclosure, or beside the hallowed well ; 
the laws were administered by the Brehon from the fort 
or rath ; the kings and chieftains were inaugurated stand- 
ing upon, or beside, the consecrating stone ; the games and 
festive meetings were all outdoor transactions ; the great as- 

* Kilcathail, the church of St. Cathaldus, stands by the road-side, about 
four miles from Clare- Galway, on the way to Tuam. — See " H-Iar Con- 
naught," p. 369. O'Donovan has given a drawing of it in his Ordnance 
Letters on Galway. By an oversight the window in Annaghdown, figured 
and described at p. 72, is stated to be 8 feet high. It is 6 feet 8 inches 
high, and 2 feet 10 inches wide in the clear of the opening. 


semblies were held in wattled halls ; and the people lived in 
stone-roofed houses, caves, cabins made of tempered clay, or 
wattled structures, either on the mainland, or in crannoges 
or lacustrine habitations, and were buried beneath the cairn 
or tumulus, &c. Thus, when the early Christian missionaries, 
in the days of Pelagius and Patricius, wished to erect a 
church in Erinn, the domestic cloughaun and the wattled 
hut furnished the types from whence the stone oratory or 
monastic cell, and the wooden Duirteach were derived — 
partly church, and partly dwelling-house for the officiating 
cleric — as at Gallerus, Kells, and Kilfrughaun. 

There are, however, special characteristics by which such 
primitive Irish or Pelasgic churches as now exist may be dis- 
tinguished. These features may be summed up by size, form 
of masonry, and the shape and position of their doors and 
windows. In size they vary from 15 to 35 feet long, by from 
6 to 15 broad. The smallest, as well as the most beautiful 
structure of this class, is that of Teampull Benan, standing on 
the height over Killeaney, in Aranmore, and which is but 
15 feet long on the outside. The walls of these little churches 
are generally constructed of large stones, not laid in courses, 
nor yet what is termed Cyclopean, but irregularly, as the ma- 
terial offered to hand; and sometimes at the angles, in that 
description of work called " long and short," such as distin- 
guish the early Saxon churches of Britain. Except on the 
inside of the door jambs, or the reveals and arches of win- 
dows, they seldom bear the mark of a tool. 


Although they may be considered the first mortared build- 
ings in Ireland, there is at present very little appearance of 
such externally. The mortar of that period, of which the lime 
is said to have been so good from having been burned with 
charcoal, was evidently used in a semi-fluid state, and perhaps 
poured in as a grouting. In position these little churches 
are not always placed due east and west ; and St. Benan's 
Church (just referred to) stands north and south; but there 
the altar occupies a position in the north-east angle, and 
has over it, facing the east, the only window in the church. 
It is thought that the great church builder, the Gobaun Saer, 
and his pupils, in laying out these churches, were guided by 
the sun's rising and setting at the time of the year in which 
the building was commenced. 

The windows are comparatively small, but usually splayed, 
and either circular-headed or rectilineally pointed ; the former 
was often cut out of a single stone ; and the latter, which was 
that most usually employed at the east end, was constructed 
of two stones meeting at an angle. A divided or many-lighted 
window is unknown in these early churches, which are totally 
devoid of architectural ornamentation, or of carving, with the 
rare exception of a cross or a small human figure in relief, 
as at the little church of Killarsagh, in the parish of Cong, 
described at page 158. Some doors were surrounded with 
projecting, and others with recessed bands. 

The chief distinguishing mark of these early churches is, 


however, the doorway, with inclining jambs, which invariably 
occupies the centre of the west gable, and is always square- 
headed ; the lintel, from 4 to 5 feet long, being usually *very 
massive, and in several instances covering the entire thick- 
ness of the opening. This doorway is, on an average, 5 feet 
6 inches high. The inclining sides, in the Egyptian fashion, 
leave the opening about 2 feet 3 inches above, and 2 feet 
8 inches below, or in that proportion. These square, semicir- 
cular, and angle-headed openings, are likewise found in some 
of our oldest round towers, with the erection of which struc- 
tures they were probably contemporaneous, and in some in- 
stances antecedent to. 

It is very questionable whether the most ancient of our 
Irish small churches were divided into nave and chancel ; and 
it will still require careful and extended research to determine 
when the latter was added ; and, where it exists, whether it 
formed part of the original plan of the building, or was added 
subsequently, say in the eighth or ninth century. Almost in- 
variably the little chancel is narrowed about 2 feet on each 
side. It is also questionable whether these divisions in the 
plan of the church necessitated the erection of a choir arch, 
and it remains to be shown that any such structure in Ireland 
is older than the ninth century- 

Some of these JDaimhliags, or primitive " stone churches," 
called by the people Teampulh, were roofed with the same 
material, as may be seen in the groovings for the flags in se- 


veral of their high-pitched gables ; but others were covered 
with wood, and perhaps thatch. 

We have a starting point for this early church architecture 
in the Irish Christian era, towards the end of the fifth century ; 
but when it ended, or was modified by the introduction of the 
pointed or Gothic style of doors and windows, or the more 
florid style known as Norman, it is difficult to determine. John 
O'Donovan — no mean antiquary, and whose local knowledge, 
acquired by his personal examination of nearly every ancient 
church in the north and west of Ireland, while engaged upon 
the Ordnance Survey, was unsurpassed — held that this form 
of ecclesiastical building was maintained until the tenth cen- 
tury, if not later.* On the other hand, our great ecclesiologist, 
Dr. Petrie, was of opinion that in and after the seventh cen- 
tury a Romanesque style of building, with decorated semi- 
circular arches, and ornamented windows and doors, some ol 
the latter being placed in the north and south walls, was 
gradually introduced, as in the Domhnach, or Teampull mor, 
"the big church," with its choir arch and decorated stone 
work. This seems the most probable ; but more modern 
authorities hold, as already stated, that all decorated or or- 

* Mr. Wilkinson, in his valuable work upon " Practical Geology and 
Ancient Architecture of Ireland," published in 1845, says that the pointed 
arch was in Ireland practically applied before the introduction of the pointed 
style through England ; and that it resulted from a progressive improve- 
ment in constructive arrangements. — See p. 140. 


namented stone work in our churches, is of " twelfth-cen- 
tury origin." It is more than probable that the transition 
from the severe Pelasgic style through the Romanesque into 
the Eoman Gothic was gradual.* In addition to the Daim- 
liag, or stone church, or the Domhnach-mor, or Cathedral, 
we had, in very early times, wooden ecclesiastical structures, 
used either as oratories or penitentiaries, and probably also 
employed as dwellings, and called Diar-teachts, " tear houses," 
or Dear-teachts, " oaken houses," and of the burning of which 
we read in some of our early Christian annals. It is proba- 
ble, however, that during what may be termed the Irish 
mediaeval times these gave way to stone structures, and were 
only roofed with timber. This church of Killursa, as well as 
others, shows that many modifications, additions, and recon- 
structions took place ; for it is quite impossible to believe 
that this straight-lined western doorway was coeval with the 
pointed southern entrance, and the large stone-mullioned east 
window. As an exception to this general rule may be cited 
the church at Inishmain; on Lough Mask, already referred to 
at page 106, where there is a square-headed doorway on the 
north side, adjoining a choir arch supported by clustered 
pillars, with floral capitals. In the " Saint's Church," at In- 

* O'Donovan's opinions and arguments are stated at length in his letters 
preserved in the Ordnance Books already referred to, and date so early 
as 1839. The same works contain Dr. Petrie's letters in reply ; but his 
more matured opinions will be found in his " Round Towers,"' published 
in 1845. 



changoill, however, the building partook in size, masonry, 
and position of doorway, of the primitive type. 

Looking north-eastward from Killursa Church into the fer- 
tile valley through which the OwendufT flows, the eye rests on 
the picturesque ruins of Koss-Errilly, depicted below ; which, 
although at a distance of more than three miles from the lake, 
are of too great beauty and importance not to be included 
among the ecclesiastical structures along the shores of Lough 

Orbsen. Upon a slight elevation on the Galway bank of the 
river, surrounded by fat pasture lands, and approached by a 
long avenue, or causeway, on the south, stand the extensive 
ruins of this Franciscan convent and church, and which are 
thus referred to by the Donegal Annalists : — "A. D. 1351, The 
monastery of Ros-Oirbhealagh [afterwards called Eoserrilly], 


in the diocese of Tuam, was erected for Franciscans." And 
when, in 1604, Brian Oge O'Rourke was buried there, the name 
had changed to Ross-Iriala.* 

The following legend still exists: — The building was com- 
menced at Ross-daff, on the north or Mayo side of the river, 
when three swans came and perched on it, and having re- 
mained some time, new to the other side with some ros, or 
flaxseed, which there grew up forthwith ; and then the former 
structure was deserted, and the present commenced, and called 
Ross-an-tree- Olla, "the flaxseed of the three swans," which, in 
course of years and mispronunciation of the language, became 

*, See O'Donovan's translation of the Annals of the Four Masters. 
Archdall, who had not access to these great historic repertories, states 
in his " Monasticon," that it was erected in 1498, by a Lord Gannard ; 
but who he was had not then been ascertained. Sir B. Burke, our present 
Ulster King of Arms, in answer to my question on the subject, says that 
" there never was an English Lord Gannard ;" but conjectures that the 
name should be Gaynard, and has furnished me with the following passage 
from an Inquisition taken at Galway, 29th January, 1584 : — " .... fitz. 
Gerr. et Gaynard et Richardus fitzWillem Gaynard/ cum consanguineis de 
nomine et stirpe de les Gaynard erant seit de feodo de 15 qr terr vocat 
1 the Gaynard land,' &c. &c. et 2 qr de Bredaghe unacum Insula de Inish- 
creas, in Stagno quse vulgarit diet Logh Corbo," &c. And this is the more 
probable, because, in the "Division of Connaught," in 1586, we find that 
"William Gaynard possessed the Castle of Cargin See pp. 49 and 88. 

t The derivation of Rosserrily has not been given ; if not that men- 
tioned in the text, possibly it may be a corruption of Ross Iarla — the Earl's 
Ross, or peninsula. By an inquisition on the 22nd April, 1636, " this 
monastery is called Rossryally, and placed in Mointermoroghow, in the ter- 
ritory of Clanrickard." — See note to Annals of Four Masters, a. d. 1604. 


The illustration has been taken from the south-east, from 
which point the best general view of this charming group of 
ruins may be obtained. The house to the extreme right of the 
picture, called " Castle Burke," was probably the private resi- 
dence of the Guardian, or the Provincial, who occasionally re- 
sided here. The church was not built cruciform, as in the case 
of its brethren at Kilconnell and Clare-Galway, but the high 
central tower, supported on pointed arches, springs from the 
junction of nave and chancel. The gables on the left are those 
of additions, and that in the centre, of a mortuary chapel. 
Popularly, but erroneously, this building is styled an "abbey," 
as in the instances of the two last named edifices ; but an 
abbey can only appertain to a community governed by an 
Abbot, which office did not belong to the Franciscan order. 
Before examining the ruins in detail, let us read what was 
written of them 250 years ago. In 1617, two Irish Franciscans, 
Fathers Purcell and Mooney, were resident at Louvain, where 
they and their order had, after their expulsion from Ireland, 
been protected by Albert and Isabella, then joint sovereigns of 
the Netherlands. Mooney, at that time Provincial, and far ad- 
vanced in years, had been in early life a soldier, and served in 
the Desmond wars. Purcell was a man of great learning ; and, 
from materials supplied him by his superior, wrote, partly as a 
dialogue, a Latin history of his order, so far as it related 
to their Irish establishments. This interesting MS., the ori- 
ginal of which is in the Burgundian Library at Brussels, the 


Rev. C. P. Meehan, of Dublin, lately translated and published.* 
Mooney's recollections of this monastery are thus afforded by 
his ancient scribe and modern commentator : — 

" Never was a more solitary spot chosen for the habitation 
of a religious community than that on which Rosserilly stands ; 
for it is surrounded by marshes and bogs, and the stillness that 
reigns there is seldom broken, save by the tolling of the 
church bell, or the whirr of the countless flocks of plover 
and other wilds birds that frequent the fens which abound 
in that desolate region. Another remarkable feature of the 
locality is, that the monastery can only be approached by a 
causeway, paved with large stones, over an extent of fully two 
hundred paces, and terminating at the enclosure, which was 
built in 1572 by Father Ferrall Mac Egan, a native of Con- 
nauo-ht, and then Provincial of the Irish Franciscans. He was, 
in sooth, a distinguished man in his day, far-famed for elo- 
quence and learning, and singularly fond of Rosserilly, which 
he used to compare to the Thebaid, whither the early Chris- 
tians fled for prayer and contemplation. He died in our house 
of Kilconnell, where he made his religious profession, and 
there he awaits the rusurrection — peace to his memory ! As 
to the church of Rosserilly, it is indeed a beautiful edifice ; and 
the same maybe said of the monastery, which, although often 

* See his " Noctes Lovanienses," in "Duffy's Hibernian Magazine," 
for 1860 and 1861. A transcript of the original is now in the library 
of Trinity College, Dublin. 



garrisoned by the English troops during the late war, is still 
in excellent preservation. Cloister, refectory, dormitory, chap- 
ter house, library, and lofty bell tower, have all survived the 
disasters of that calamitous period ; but, in the twenty-sixth 
year of the reign of Elizabeth, the friars were forcibly ex- 
pelled from their beloved retreat." 

The friars, however, soon returned, and remained in quiet 
possession for long after, till Sir Arthur Chichester, then Lord 
Deputy, directed O'Donnell, Archbishop of Tuam,* to turn 
them out ; but that good and learned Protestant sent them 
word privately of his intention, and they saved themselves 
and their effects by flight. One good turn deserved another ; 
and this kindness was repaid in 1641, when, after the mas- 
sacre at Shrule, Father Brian Kilkelly, then Guardian of 
Rosserilly, hearing of the atrocities which were enacting 

* Dr. William O'Donnell, F. T. C. D or, as he is styled by English 

writers, Daniel — who died Archbishop of Tuam in 1628, was a very learned 
man, and thoroughly acquainted with the Irish language. He translated the 
Book of Common Prayer from the English into our native tongue ; and is 
also said, by TTare and others, to have translated the New Testament Scrip- 
tures from Greek into Irish. This latter statement is not, however, strictly 
correct, as the author has shown in the account he published in 1841 of the 
translation and printing of the New Testament Scriptures, in his Memoir of 
Sir Thomas Molyneux, referred to at pages 74 and 123 of this book. — See 
"Gallery of Illustrious Irishmen," No. XIII., in " The Dublin University 
Magazine," for September, 1841, p. 308. The men who assisted O'Donnell 
were — Miles Mac Brody and Daniel Inigin, and their labours in trans- 
lation were fully acknowledged by the learned prelate. 


within a few miles of him, hastened to the spot, succoured 
the wounded, and brought the Bishop of Killala's wife and 
children to his monastery, and treated them with the greatest 
kindness. See Otway's " Tour in Connaught." 

Great changes have taken place in the surrounding scene 
since Father Mooney's description was written. This site was 
in all probability a Claain, an " isolated meadow," or oasis ; and 
there was originally a water course leading from some springs, 
pools, and turloughs, on the south-east, which supplied a 
stream that turned a small mill, the foundations of which still 
exist, and then passed by a conduit through the kitchen on the 
northern side into a fish tank, or circular reservoir, within the 
walls, the cut stone margin of which remains ; so that the 
fresh trout and curdy salmon from the neighbouring OwendufF 
prevented the worthy friars from feeling the effects of absti- 
nence on fast days. 

This kitchen is a spacious apartment, fitted up with oven, 
extensive fire-place, and an aperture through which the smoking 
savoury viands could be passed at once into the refectory, which 
adjoins its eastern side, and had all the other appliances which 
the gustatory taste of the period could suggest ; so that, if 
the Franciscans did not exactly fare "like sons of Irish kings," 
they certainly lived like gentlemen, and much good may it 
have done them. In the north-east corner of this refectory is 
a sedile, with a handsome slender pillar support, in which 
the reader, in sonorous tones, read to the fathers as they were 
regaled from the produce of the adjoining kitchen. Wander- 


ing among these noble ruins, evincing so much taste, if not 
luxury, one cannot help peopling them, in imagination, with 
the inmates of four or five hundred years gone by ; when, after 
dinner, the brown-robed friars strolled in the adjoining clois- 
ters, of which several of the arches are quite perfect. But the 
picture dims as we proceed from that portion of the ruins allo- 
cated to the creature comforts of the clergy, to those devoted 
to the service of the Most High ; for, passing into the great 
church by its western entrance, amidst heaps of human skulls 
and bones, into the great aisle or nave, we are at once met 
by droves of sheep and oxen, that rush from off the altars, or 
from out of the tombs, or from within the precincts of the 
small chapels around us. It would not be profitable to either 
reader or tourist to depict the amount of desecration which the 
author witnessed in this abbey on several occasions, but espe- 
cially in July, 1866. Here, in former times, were interred, with 
pomp, while bells tolled, friars chaunted, and chieftains clad 
in all the panoply of funereal state assisted at the ceremonial, 
the mortal remains of the O'Flahertys, O'Donnells, Kirwans, 
Lynchs, Brownes, Mac Donnells, Burkes, Kilkellys, and other 
Connaught notabilities, whose tombs stud the walls or pave 
the aisles of Ross-Errilly, but which are now the habitation 
of rabbits, sheep, and oxen.* The total length of this great 
church is 128 feet, and its breadth 20J feet. The arches be- 
tween the nave and side aisle on the southern side, as we 

* This is not the first notice of the desecration of Ross-Errilly, and the 
indecent exposure of the vast multitude of human remains within and around 


enter from the west ; the tall tower, 70 feet high, supported 
upon pointed arches, that separates the nave and chancel ; 
the beauteous four-lighted east window, partially deformed 
though it be by the unsightly modern tomb that occupies 
the situation of the high altar ; the coronetted tomb of the 
founder, recessed into the northern wall ; the low, deeply- 
moulded arches that lead into the side chapels ; the history 
of the families to whose memory the different mortuary chapels 
were erected, and all the architectural details of this memo- 
rable place, would occupy many pages to describe ; but pos- 
sibly the foregoing will be sufficient for the purposes of this 

the ruins ; for, twenty-eight years ago, the Rev. Caesar Otway produced at 
the Royal Irish Academy a human skull from Ross-Errilly, upon which long 
shaggy moss had grown, and feelingly remarked upon the circumstance here 
referred to. He afterwards alluded to it in his " Tour in Connaught," 
already referred to at p. 116. Not long since, Mr. Bevan, the writer 
of Murray's valuable " Handbook for Travellers in Ireland," has thus 
described it: — "It is the cemetery of many good Connaught families, and 
probably contains more grinning and ghastly skulls than any catacomb, some 
of the tracery of the windows being filled up with thigh bones and heads— a 
not uncommon way of disposing of these emblems of mortality in Irish 
abbeys." Father Conway has also drawn public attention to the subject in 
a letter recently published in the " Freeman's Journal." 

Mr. Oliver Burke, of the neighbouring family of Ower, a gentleman 
who takes much interest in antiquarian matters, did good service to these 
ruins very lately, by removing the obstructions from between the mul- 
lions of the beautiful windows, and also by making several repairs in the 
tower, and thereby rendering it accessible to the top ; he also caused some 
good photographs to be made of the interior. 


work.* There are many interesting and peculiarly Irish archi- 
tectural details in this ruin, among which are the decoration of 
the bolt-hole in the western door-way, which resembles some 
of the Newgrange carvings ; the beautiful cross, a fragment 
of which has been erected over a grave adjoining the modern 
western wall ; and the form of an ancient hatchet or Tuath 
figured on the tomb of the Tnuhils in 1617, who probably 
derived their name from that implement. The great bell, with 
its silver tongue, is, it is said, occasionally heard to chime in 
its deep bed in the adjoining river. 

From the rolls of the order we learn that in 1647 a chap- 
ter of Franciscans was held here under the presidency of the 
Very Rev. Anthony de Burgo ; and also that it was occupied 
until 1687, when the Rev. P. O'Neill was elected Provincial, 
and the Rev. B. OTlaherty Guardian ; and the friars prayed for 
James II. and his consort, and his Irish viceroy, Tirconnell. — 
See Appendix. It is said that at a later period Lord St. George 
aided the friars by placing some looms in the church when the 
government sent down orders to dispossess them. 

* Irish ecclesiastical history ought to have been pretty well determined in 
the middle of the nineteenth century. Usshcr, AY are, King, Harris, Lani- 
gan, De Burgo, Archdall, the O'Clearys, O'Donovan, Petrie, Todd, Reeves, 
O'Curry, and the Transactions and Proceedings of the Royal Irish Academy, 
and the Archaeological and Celtic Societies, have illustrated the subject so far 
as probably it is possible. What then will be thought of a work published in 
New York, in 1854, entitled, " History of the Irish Hierarchy," full of gross 
errors, strong anti-English prejudices, and innumerable plagiarisms, in which 
the following description of the ruins occurs: — "Ross, a monastery . . . . 


The following circumstance serves to show how far the 
legend, the fairy tale, the local tradition, or the popular super- 
stition may have been derived from absolute historic fact. A 
gentleman residing in the neighbourhood lately told the author 
that about 200 years ago it was mysteriously communicated to 
the people of the district, that the fairies of Knockmagh were, 
upon a certain day, to have a battle at Eoss with the fairies of 
Scotland. Thither flocked the people from all quarters, and 
great was the excitement. Well — they waited at the abbey 
all that long summer's day until sundown, in anxious expec- 
tation of the prodigy, and were about returning home, when, 
lo, and behold, in the twilight the sky became darkened, and 
a great humming noise was heard in the air, and then the 
forces of Fin-Varragh, in the form of Primpiollans, or beetles, 
met those of the hostile fairy chief from the other side of 
the Channel, and a terrific conflict ensued. Thousands of 

founded ... in the diocese of Tuam, A. d. 1431. It is a very solitary place, 
surrounded on all sides by water. Rosserrilly, in the barony of Clare, si- 
tuated on the river of Ross. The Lord Granard founded this monastery for 
the strict observants, a. d. 1498. A. d. 1604 the Roman Catholics repaired 
the Abbey of Rosserrilly ; its ruins, which still remain, show it to have been a 
very extensive building." Now, every word of the foregoing, erroneous as 
it is, is extracted, without acknowledgment, from the " Monasticon Hiber- 
nicon," the labour of the Rev. Mervyn Archdall, the Protestant writer of 
1786; but the Rev. Mr. Walsh, his American commentator, has added to 
the foregoing the following passage: — "It has been lately purchased by 
the Archbishop of Tuam.' 1 If it had, we would have expected a better 
preservation of this ancient ruin ; but it belongs to a gentleman living a long 
distance off, on the south-eastern border of the county of Galway. 


them fell dead all round ; and others, rushing into the church 
and monastery, strewed the sacred edifice with the slain. Such, 
without variation or adornment, is the tradition still current 
in the locality. 

The informant was not a little surprised when told that 
the narrative was founded on fact; that the author knew all 
about it, and had published an account of it many years 
ago. It is this : — In 1688 a swarm of locusts, so called, in- 
vaded Connaught, and are thus described by Sir Thomas Moly- 
neux : — 

"They appeared on the south-west coast of the county of 
Galloway : from hence they made their way into the more in- 
land parts, towards Headford, a place belonging to Sir George 
St. George, Bart., about twelve miles north from the town of 
Galloway; here, and in the adjacent country, multitudes of 
them showed themselves among the trees and hedges in the 
day-time, hanging by the boughs ; thousands together, in clus- 
ters, sticking to the back one of another, as in the manner 
of bees when they swarm. In this position, or lying still and 
covert under the leaves of the trees, they continued quiet, 
with little or no motion, during the heat of the sun ; but to- 
wards evening, or sunset, they would all rise, disperse, and 
fly about, with a strange humming noise, much like the beat- 
ing of drums at some distance, and in such vast, incredible 
numbers, that they darkened the air for the space of two or 
three miles square. 


" So complete was the devastation occasioned by this insect, 
that in a short time the whole face of the country presented 
the appearance of winter, though it was then the middle of 
summer — every green thing having been devoured by them. 

" Nay, their multitudes spread so exceedingly, that they 
disturbed men even within their dwellings ; for out of the 
gardens they got into the houses, where numbers of them 
crawling about were very irksome, and they would often drop 
on the meat as it was dressing in the kitchen, and frequently 
fall from the ceiling of the rooms into the dishes as they stood 
on the table while they ate, so extremely offensive and loath- 
some were they, as well as prejudicial and destructive."* 

Such is the account given of this invasion by the great Irish 
physician and antiquary. The insect was not the true locust, 
such as occasionally devours every green thing in eastern coun- 
tries, and as once invaded England from the coast of Nor- 
mandy, but a description of cockchafer, the Melalontha vulgaris, 
or summer beetle, that buzzes past us on calm evenings as the 
harbinger of fine weather, and which is known to the peasantry 
by the Irish name of primpioUan. No doubt can be entertained 
on the subject, for Molyneux has given a faithful engraving of 

* See a letter to St. George Ash, Bishop of Clogher, giving " An account 
of the swarms of insects that of late years have much infested the province 
of Connaught, in Ireland," which was printed in the " Philosophical Trans- 
actions," No. 234, and was republished in Boate and Molyneux's " Natural 
History of Ireland." See also the Author's Memoir of Sir T. Molyneux, 
Bart., M. D., in the " Dublin University Magazine" for December, 1841. 


the animal. In winter they retired under ground, where it is 
thought they hibernated ; but there they deposited their eggs, 
and their larvas destroyed even more than the parent animals, 
for they ate up the grain in the ground, and the crops of the 
ensuing year completely failed wherever these insects existed. 
A famine seemed to threaten the whole of the province, and 
it became the cause of much and just alarm throughout the 
entire kingdom. A long continuance of wet weather and high 
winds, however, checked their further spread, and timely aided 
in averting the expected calamity. They were also eaten in 
large quantities by pigs and poultry, and, according to the 
narrator, were even used as human food. Large fires were 
likewise kept up in different districts, with the hope of arrest- 
ing their progress, and towards the end of the following sum- 
mer th»eir numbers had greatly diminished. They, however, 
continued their progress in an easterly direction, and in 1697 
" they reached as far as the Shannon, and some of the scattered, 
loose parties crossed the river, and got into the province of 
Leinster, but were met there by a stronger army of jackdaws, 
that did much execution among them, killing and devouring 
great numbers.' 1 Their main body still kept in Connaught, and 
were last heard of " at a well-improved English plantation not 
far from the River Shannon, called Air's Court, where they 
found plenty of provision, and did a great deal of mischief by 
stripping the hedges, gardens, and groves of beech, quite naked 
of all their leaves." Had we this animal in Ireland before 
1G88 ; and may it not again increase and devastate? 


About a mile to the north-east of Rosserilly, but upon the 
Mayo side of the river, and in the parish of Shrule, stands 
the old castle of Moyne, and a little beyond it the ruins of 
an ancient church. Besides these different places already re- 
ferred to or described in the parish of Killursa, the following 
may be noted. The site of the ancient " Church of the two 
Kings," Kill-da-Reigh, from which the townland of Killdarre has 
been called ; Ardfintan and Caher-Fintan, which also gives 
name to a townland to the north-east of Killursa Church, 
where also several raths and forts exist, and which is so called 
after the ancient king already referred to at page 99 ; Cathair- 
na-hailiglii, now called Cahernally, where the Kilkellys of old 
resided ; and near the church the remains of a cromleagh, 
termed — as such structures usually are, Leabha-Dearmid-agus- 
Graina — the bed or " resting place of Dermod and Grace " 
during the period of their courtship and flight from Tara ; its 
top stone is 9J feet long. There are also forts and raths 
along the shore, which are well worthy of inspection, especially 
Lisheennakirka. The church of St. Fursa is on the property 
of W. G. Burke, Esq., of Ower. 

Appertaining to this parish, near its north-western end, and 
about half a mile off shore, is the long, low Island of Inchiquin, 
running nearly north and south ; which is upwards of a mile 
and a quarter in length ; it contains 229 acres, and is the largest 
island in Lough Corrib. "On that island of Insequin," O'Fla- 
herty says, as already referred to at page 99, "St. Brendan 


built a chappell, and worked divers miracles. In the same is- 
land St. Meldan, whose festival day is on the 7th of February, 
was abbot of a famous abbey about the year 580. He was 
spiritual father to the great St. Furse, of Perone, in France, 
who carried the relics of this saint along with him, and en- 
shrined them at Perone." The local habitation of these early 
saints on Inchiquin was Rathmath, " the rath of the field" or 
plain — a name that has become very celebrated from its fre- 
quent mention in Irish hagiology. Its outline still exists, but 
scarcely a vestige of the walls of the ecclesiastical structures 
remains ; the site is, however, still used as a burial ground. 
Possibly the dilapidations commenced here when "the isles of 
Lough Orbsen were pillaged by the Danes." Its Irish name 
is Inis-Mac-Hy-chuinn — the island of the descendants of Con, 
Monarch of Ireland in the second century ; and it was so cele- 
brated, that the entire lake is said at one time to have been 
called Inis-ui-chuinn. Three Cons have been celebrated in 
Irish history, and Con-Cedchathact, here referred to, was the 
ancestor of St. Meldan. It is said, traditionally, that Roderick 
O'Conor, when on his way to Cong, after his abdication in 
1183, rested at this island; but, finding a favouring breeze, he 
said, "Well, if the land is against me, the wind is with me ;" 
and so set sail sail for Illaunree. 

Having advanced thus far in the footprints of the early 
founders of Christianity in the west, and traced the early Irish 
and the Norman chieftains through their forts and castles, the 


question naturally arises, when looking to the present sparsity 
of population in the same districts — where the population came 
from, and what was its amount, to whose spiritual necessities 
these early missionaries ministered, or for whose defence or go- 
vernance these cahers and cashels were erected. To the tro- 
glodyte people, whose subterranean dwellings will be described 
farther on in this book, it is here unnecessary to refer; but 
that long subsequent to their period there must have been a 
very great population in Ireland is shown by the vast num- 
ber of earthen forts, raths, and lisses with which the country 
in certain fertile localities, is studded. Even in this far western 
district we have examples of this ; for, in a comparatively small 
space upon the Ordnance Sheet 5Q, including portions of the 
junction of the parishes of Killeany, Kilcoona, and Annagh- 
down, there are no less than 50 raths and circles marked ; and, 
as the author has shown elsewhere, certain districts in Kerry 
presented a greater amount of population than at present exists 
in any rural part of Ireland of the same extent. Each of these 
forts was either the habitation of a large family, or sometimes 
a village ; and the larger ones belonged to chieftains, or per- 
sons of rank. But then, it must be remembered that there 
were no large towns or cities in those days.* 

* See the Author's Lecture upon "Ireland Past and Present — the Land 
and the People," delivered at the Metropolitan Hall, Dublin, in 18G4, and 
published by M'Glashan and Gill, p. 19. 





Keturnlng to our steamer from the point where we landed, 
at Annakeen Castle, to investigate the extensive parish of 
Killursa, and continuing our north-west course, we steer by 
the south-west corner of Rabbit Island, from whence glimpses 
of the grand mountain view already referred to may be de- 
scried. And here, as we enter the broad waters of the upper 
lake, a word about the islands which cluster around us may 
be useful. 

The islands of Lough Corrib are so numerous, that the 
people of the district say they number 365, or one for 
every day in the year, and that an additional one rises 


on leap year ; and as many as 145, independent of rocks and 
shoals, have been named. The largest are those of Inchiquin, 
Inchmicatreer, Dooms, Inchangoill, Cannaun, Lee's Island, and 
Illaunaconaun. Passing the narrow channel through which the 
steamer darns its tortuous path, amidst the intricate navigation 
of rocks, shoals, and breakers, and getting into the open space 
of the large or middle lake, we are struck with the curious 
appearance of the groups of islands in threes and fours, ar- 
ranged in lines, as if marking the ancient boundaries of the 
lake beach. Such may be observed in those running nearly 
north and south, from Bilberry Island to Cussafoor, and from 
Coad to Inishbeagh, both to the west of the steamer's track ; 
and from Carrickaslin to Inchbiana, to the east of that line ; 
and again a group of five, stretching from the north-east point 
of Inishdoorus, by Cleenillaun and Ardillaun, to the west of 
the Cong River. The west face of several of these small islands 
is truncated, the alluvial soil and gravel having been cut down 
by the winds and waves of thousands of years. 

As we are now passing Inchiquin, already twice refer- 
red to, we must again, in fancy, if not in fact, land our tourist 
freight for a short digression to the mainland. Before, how- 
ever, we take leave of the Galway waters, or pass into 
those of Mayo, we must introduce the accompanying vig- 
nette of the Rev. John D'Arcey's pretty cottage upon Inish- 
anboe, " the island of the old cow," that just now appears in 
view, among the cluster of small islands to the west of our 




course. It is so called on account of the usual tradition or cow 
leo-end of which the tale will be told when describing Kilcum- 
min, the parish to which this island belongs. 

We now enter the county of Mayo portion of the lake, 
and pass along the south-western boundary of the extensive 
parish of SHRULE — Shruille — in Irish, Struthair or Srutlio-fuile, 
" the bloody stream" — which is next in succession to Killursa, 
on the eastern shore of the lake. It spreads along the coast 
for about two miles, and proceeds inland in a south-easterly 
direction for nearly five miles, except where it includes the 
small parish of Kilmain-beg. Although possessing several ob- 
jects of historic and antiquarian interest, especially the fine 
old castle at the village of Shrule, they are x not sufficiently 
near Lough Corrib to bring them within the pale of this work. 



This parish is situated in the south-west corner of the barony 
of Kilmain, and county of Mayo, and extends from the Black 
River, which divides it from the county of Galway, to the 
stream at the mill of Ballynalty, which separates it from the 
parish of Cong. The vicinity of this little country mill is a 
noted spawning ground for Salmonidce, and around it grow, in 
great profusion and luxuriance, the bushy shrubs of the Poten- 
tilla fructuosa. 

Besides the great tower at Shrule, there are several ruined 
castles in the western extremity of this parish, of which the 
most extensive and best preserved is Ballycurrin, within view 
of the steamer, and in connexion with the beautiful residence 
of Charles Lynch, Esq., as figured in the subjoined illustra- 
tion, taken from the south-east. 

This old tower-house, or defensive mansion, consists of a 
quadrangular ivy-mantled keep — now somewhat altered for mo- 



dern purposes — 64 feet long on the south, 39 on the west face, 
and 47 feet high ; but possessing no architectural memorial 
by which to assign even a probable date to it, as the dressed 
stones are not chiselled, but punched, or what is styled 
" sparrow-picked ;" massive defence and security having evi- 
dently been the main objects of its founders. Both it and the 
modern residence are most pleasingly situated on a green 
slope, rising from a sheltered little bay, and surrounded by a 
large park of well-grown timber. There is no reference to 
this ancient building in our histories or inquisitions ; and the 
only legend attaching thereto is, that it was built in the " ould 
times" by one of three brothers, the two others of whom erected 
those of Ballysnahiney and Moceara (possibly Mac-Ceara), with 
which it forms a triangle. After the Milesian invasion, our 
bardic histories say that one of that race, named " Caicer, 
erected a castle at Dunn Inn, in the West of Ireland." Upon 
the shore adjoining Bally currin there exists a mound, or earthen 
tumulus of that name, about 30 feet high, and occupying 
nearly a rood of ground, which Mr. Lynch thinks may be that 
referred to above, and mentioned in Keating's History of Ire- 
land. There is, however, no mortared structure in Ireland 
older than the Christian Era. And he is also of opinion that 
Ceara, one of the artificers said to have come over at that 
time, left his name to many localities in Connaught — such as 
Lough Ceara, Castle Ceara ; and in this immediate neighbour- 
hood, Tobar- Ceara and Gorren- Ceara, or Ceara's well and gar- 


den. In the old quit rent receipts Bally currin is called Bally- 
car, possibly a corruption or Anglicized version of Bally-Ceara. 
In the vicinity was found a collection of amber beads, and 
several bronze antiquities, now in the Collection of the Royal 
Irish Academy. 

In the south-east of this parish, and to the right of the road 
between Moyne and Cross, there are several objects worthy of 
inspection, especially the great Pagan forts of Cahermore and 
Cahernahilk, &c. 

We are still in Mayo waters : in the barony of Kilmain, 
and legally within the limits of the extensive and celebrated 
parish of CONG, which forms the entire northern boundary of 
Lough Corrib in both counties, and extends from its junction 
with that of Shrule to near the bridge of Maam, a distance 
of about twenty miles. As the nearest point of land in this 
parish is immediately on the larboard or western side of our 
track, we will conduct our readers to it. 

Inchangoill — Inis-an-ghoill- Craibhtheach, " the island of the 
devout foreigner," Gael, or Gail, as all strangers were formerly 
styled — which now rises its long green ridge-like back to the 
west of our course, is by far the most interesting island on 
the lake ; and, if we said one of the most remarkable spots on 
Irish ground, we should not fear to take up the gauntlet in 
its favour, for picturesque scenery, grand mountain view, and 
existing historic monuments. 

In an undulating slope, where the island narrows towards 
its centre, an extensive graveyard, in an ancient ecclesiastical 


enclosure, marks where, so long as there were any of the name 
left in the country, the Kinnaveys, Conways, Sullivans, Mur- 
phy s, Lyddans, Butlers, and others, interred their dead ; and 
many a wild wail of the Irish keen has floated over the sur- 
rounding waters, as the funeral procession of boats, with their 
picturesquely clad freights, approached the shore of this sacred 

Within this graveyard, lately enclosed by its present pro- 
prietor, Sir Benjamin Lee Guinness, Bart., the restorer of St. 
Patrick's, stand the ruins of two exceedingly ancient churches, 
both of the small Irish type, already noticed at page 107, 
but of far different styles and dates. That to the north-east, 
which is much the older and plainer, bears all the characteristics 
of its period in its narrow square-headed doorway, with in- 
clined jambs, and the Cyclopean style of its masonry. It was 
not built due east and west, but inclines to the north of the 
former, and south of the latter, as sometimes occurs in our very 
early Irish churches.* This little Team/pull Phaichng, or " St. 
Patrick's Church," which is 34 feet 7 inches long, measured 
by its outer Avail, is divided by a slight recess into a nave 
and chancel, but there are no vestiges of a dividing arch ; 
and it is questionable whether any very early church of this 

* As already stated at page 108, many of our old Irish churches are not 
built exactly east and west. Cormac's Chapel, at Cashel, and the adjoining- 
cathedral, present strikingly different bearings. The old Gobaun Saers, when 
laying a church foundation, assumed as east and west the points in the 
horizon where the sun rose and set at the time. This would account for 
a multitude of differences in the cast of such buildings. 


class had originally a choir arch.* Its internal dimensions are, 
29 feet 7 inches in the clear, of which 17 feet 11 inches by 
11 feet 10 inches are occupied by the nave ; the chancel' is 
11 feet 7 inches by 8 feet 8 inches. There are no remains of 
the altar or the east window, nor of any side light. The massive 
walls, now about 9 feet high, of what is termed Cyclopean work, 
show no signs of morter except in their interior. The stones 
of the south-western portion of the wall of the gable have 
lately been carefully replaced ; and the square-headed doorway 
in it, figured at page 142, is of the true primitive type, and 
about 6 feet high ; its jambs formed of square, but uncut 
stones, incline inwards, from 24J inches at the sill to 22-J 
inches under the massive lintel, which is 4 feet 8 inches long.f 
" That this church," says Dr. Petrie, " is of the age of St. 
Patrick, as is believed in the traditions of the country, and 
as its name would indicate, can, I think, scarcely admit of 
doubt." — Round Towers, page 163. 

What gives the most special interest to this locality is 
the preservation there of a monumental stone, containing, un- 

* The choir arch in the little church called St. Kevin's Kitchen, at 
Glendalough, may be cited as contradicting this statement; but it is pro- 
bably not so old as that at Inchangoill ; and, besides, such arches may 
have been superadded to the original building. Why are such structures 
styled by writers, "triumphal arches"? 

t See a view of this doorway in Petrie's " Round Towers," p. 163 ; 
and Wakeman's sketch of it as it stood in 1839, in the " Galway Ordnance 
Letter Book," vol. iii., p. 47; and in his useful little book, "A Week in 
the West," 



doubtedly, one of the very earliest Christian inscriptions in 
Ireland. It is a single four-sided obelistic pillar, of hard, 
greyish Silurian stone,* unhewn, slightly cambered, broad at the 
base, where it measures 10 inches, and gradually decreasing from 
6 to 5 inches on the inscribed side, which faces the south- 
west end of St. Patrick's 
Church, and from which 
it is distant a few paces. 
This monolith now stands 
2 feet 4 inches over the 
ground, as a headstone to 
a grave, but that such was 
|p not its original position is 
manifest ; and it has all 
the appearance of having 
been one of those cor- 
bel stones so often seen 
projecting in old Irish 
churches, and of which 
\ l}| \^ff/ // ' there is an example in the 

north-east angle of the gable of the neighbouring " Church 
of the Saint." It has at top two crosses on the west, two on 
the east (as shown in the accompanying illustrations), two on 

* Professor Haughton, who examined a small fragment of this fossilife- 
rous stone for the author, reports that " It is a fine-grained micaceous sand- 
stone, eolonred green by silicate of iron ; it contains fragments of Orthis." 
There are other similar stele, but uncarved, throughout this graveyard. 

ltjgnaedon's stone. 1o7 

the south, and one on the north face, which may be re- 
garded as examples of the most ancient carvings of that sacred 
emblem now to be found in the British Isles, or perhaps, if 
we except those in the Catacombs of Rome, anywhere in 

On the east face is an inscription, in the Uncial or old 
Latin character, which is reduced from a most careful rub- 
bing lately taken by the Earl of Dunraven.* It reads per- 
pendicularly, and was first published in 1845 by the late Dr. 
Petrie, in his celebrated work upon " The Ecclesiastical 
Architecture and Round Towers of Ireland," as Lia Lugnaeclon 
Mace Lmenueh, "the Stone of Lugnaedon, son of Limenueh," 
the sister of St. Patrick. Taking the authorities in consecu- 
tive order, it may be observed that Roderick O'Flaherty, who 
first informed us of the ancient name of this island, makes 
no allusion to this monolith. In 1810 an officer quartered 
in Galway described it in a local newspaper, and an Irish- 
speaking soldier of his regiment gave a fanciful interpretation 
of its inscription. f 

In 1839 our great topographer, John O'Donovan, then 

* At Llandewi-breefi, in South Wales, there is a somewhat similar stone, 
with a like character of inscription, said to be of the fifth century. 

t See the " Hibernian Magazine," edited by the redoubted Watty Cox, 
and quoted by Dutton in his u Statistical Survey of the County of Galway." 

In 1824 Dr. Petrie, in company with Samuel Lover, was in the West 
of Ireland, and visited Inchangoill, where he had an opportunity of examin- 
ing this stone. 


employed upon the Ordnance Survey, visited the island, along 
with Mr. Wakeman, who made most careful drawings of the 
stone, and all the other objects of antiquarian interest in con- 
nexion with these two churches ; and O'Donovan's illustrated 
communication of the 27th of June in that year is preserved 
in that great repertory of Irish history, " The Ordnance 
Letters on the Antiquities of the county of Galway," vol. iii., 
page 46, now in the Library of the Koyal Irish Academy. 

With reference to this stone he writes thus at page 50 : — 
It " exhibits a very ancient inscription, in the Roman charac- 
ters, of the fifth or very beginning of the sixth century ;"* and 
adds, " That this Lugnoedon Mace Lmenueh was no other than 
Praesbyter Lugnath, who was the son of Liemania, otherwise 
Darerca, the sister of St. Patrick, is highly probable, though 
we have no account of his having lived or being buried in this 
island. According to the 'Book of Lecan,' fol. 51, p. b. col. 5, 
Presbyter Lugna (otherwise called Lugnath), was the alumnus 
of St.. Patrick, and son of his sister ; and he was located at a 
place called Fearta, in Tir Fheg, on Lough Mask, where Duach 
Teanga Umha, King of Connaught, gave him and his fellow- 
labourers the lands extending from that part of Lough Mask 
called Snamh Tire Feig to Sail Dea. In the same MS., fol. 45, 
a. 1, he is called St. Patrick's Luamaire or navigator. The Irish 

* O'Donovan likewise gives, in proof of this opinion, examples from an 
alphabet of the seventh century, furnished by Astle "On the Origin and 
Progress of Writing," p. 96. Lugnaedon's stone is also figured in his Irish 


authorities are not, however, all agreed upon the history of this 
saint, some making him the son of St. Patrick's sister Lupita, 
some of his sister Darerca, and others of Liemania ! But this 
stone is a cotemporaneous monument, and should be received 
as historical evidence to prove that he was the son of Liemania. 
This inscription is the oldest Christian monument I have yet 
seen ; and, whatever doubts there may be about the history of 
this saint, as given in the Irish MSS., there can be none about 
the authenticity of this inscription." O'Donovan also gives 
the various authorities from the Irish hagiology, and Eugene 
O'Curry's extracts from the Book of Lecan, and other Irish 
MSS. bearing on the subject.* 

Subsequently our great ecclesiologist, Dr. Petrie, published, 
as already stated at page 137, a drawing of this inscribed stone, 

* The foregoing references to the ancient monuments in the island of 
Inchangoill, contained in the MS. Ordnance Letters, now amounting to 137 
thick quarto volumes, are here specially introduced in order to show the 
great value of these productions. With Larcom directing the survey, maps, 
and topography — Petrie, with an office in Dublin, and a staff, in which were 
Eugene O'Curry, George Downes, Clarence Mangan, O'Keeffe, and others, 
searching the ancient records, and transmitting to the fieldworkers the 
results of their labours ; and with O'Donovan, O'Connor, and others, in- 
vestigating each parish and townland in Ireland, exploring its antiquities, 
jotting down its local history and legends, and attended in many localities 
by draftsmen of the first character — Wakeman and Du Noyer, both pupils 
of Petrie — who made most graphic sketches, some of which have been already 
published — a work was produced unsurpassed by anything of the kind in the 
world. The 137 volumes of manuscripts to which we have referred, and 
which are deposited in the Library of the Royal Irish Academy, are no 
longer a sealed book, but are freely open to all students of Irish history. 

140 st. Patrick's nephew. 

and gave a learned dissertation upon it, which confirms O'Dono- 
van's opinion, and said, " that the most ancient authorities which 
make mention of Lugnat, concur in stating that he was one of 
the seven sons of the Bard or Lombard — as in Duald Mac 
Firbis's compilation of ancient genealogies, and that the most of 
those authorities state that these seven sons of the Lombard 
were St. Patrick's nephews," and quotes in support thereof the 
Leabhar Breac, which states that " Cruimther Lugnai (i. e., the 
foster-son of Patrick and son of his sister) was the seventh son 
of the Bard, and located at Ferta of Tir Feic, on Lough Mask."* 
Of this inscription, says the Rev. Dr. Todd, in his work on 
the Life and Mission of "St. Patrick, Apostle of Ireland," its 
character may, with almost certainty, be regarded as not later 
than the beginning of the sixth century ; and he observes, that 
" Lugnaedon is the Celtic genitive of Lugnad, or Lugna, the 
name given to the youngest of the seven sons of Limanin," 
of which Limenue is also the genitive. The inscription, of 
which the foregoing is a facsimile, is, however, still suscep- 
tible of further elucidation. f No matter what interpretation 

* Where Tir Feig is, unless it be the very ancient square-headed 
church at lloss Hill, also called Teampull Phaidrig, is unknown. 

f In the Appendix to his " History of the Ancient Churches of Armagh," 
the liev. Dr. Reeves writes : — " Of Lupeit, or Lupita, St. Patrick's alleged 
sister, there is no notice in any of the Irish calendars. The tract on the 
mothers of the saints of Ireland, ascribed to Aengus, the Culdee, says, Lu- 
pait, sister of Patrick, was the mother of the seven sons of Ula Baird [an 
Irish chieftain] ; namely, Nectan, Dabonda, Mogorman, Darigue, Ausille, 
Sechnell, and Crumtha Lugnadh." — See also the " Tripartite Life of St. 
Patrick," p. 235 ; and the " Irish Book of Hymns," p. 34. 


may be given of the second line, no doubt can exist that 
Petrie and O'Donovan were correct in stating that this was 
the monumental stone of Lugnad, or Lugnaedon — the former 
of whom inclined to the opinion that he was the son of Res- 
titutus, the Lombard, and Lemueh. 

A short distance to the south-east is the second building — 
Teampull-na-Neave, "the Church of the Saint," probably Lug- 
nad ; and an ancient flagged way, 79 yards long, leads between 
the two. It is a more modern and highly decorated structure 
than that called after our great Irish Missionary, and lies 
nearly due east and west. It measures 38 feet 1 inch from 
out to out, of which 26 feet 4 inches is the length of the 
wall of the nave, and 11 feet 9 inches that of the recessed 
chancel, which is 5 feet 11 inches wide at the eastern end. 
The masonry of this church is, to a certain extent, laid in 
courses, except a portion of the south wall, which is very 
massive, or what is usually called Cyclopean ; but the quoins 
and several other stones were dressed. Projecting from the 
north-east angle of the wall of the nave is a remarkable cor- 
bel-shaped stone, 2 feet 4 inches long, that reminds one 
strongly of the Lugnaedon pillar, and strengthens the opinion 
given at page 136. 

Here, in juxtaposition, but in chronological and architec- 
tural contrast, are shown, on the two next pages, the door- 
ways of the Inchangoill Churches. The first, taken from 
a photograph made last year, represents the plain, severe. 


» . 


square-headed doorway of the very early primitive church, 
or Teampull Phaidrig, described at page 135. And on the 
opposite side we have represented the beautiful' highly deco- 
rated, circular-arched, cluster-pillared doorway of Teampull na 


Neave, now for the first time brought before the archaeo- 
logical world ; and between the erection of which and the 
former, some centuries must have elapsed. This marvellous 
doorway, which is a grand specimen of early Irish deco- 
rative art, is decidedly anterior to the date of the Anglo- 
Norman conquest. Like its elder brother adjoining, it is 



placed in the western gable, and its jambs slope slightly in- 
wards.* Its dimensions are 5 feet 11 inches from the lower 
edfje of the arch to the sill, 2 feet 2 inches wide at bottom, 
and 2 feet at top — almost the same as that of its primitive 

neighbour, previously described. The entire thickness of 
this doorway is 39 inches ; it is formed of a reddish drab 

* The doorway of the church of Dysart, near Currofin, Co. Clare, adjoin- 
ing the round tower there, presents features similar to the foregoing, espe- 
cially in the row of heads surrounding the arch. 


coloured sandstone, such as that found on the Cong side of 
the lake ; where, as here, it has become porous or pitted with 
small depressions, as if eaten by the Pholas. It has also suf- 
fered much generally from the weather ; and although the au- 
thor remembers the lower portion of the arch perfect in the 
days of his boyhood, the two external or upper bands had 
fallen, and their stones were strewn about.* 

Fortunately, nearly every stone was forthcoming, and it 
has been skilfully restored by the present proprietor within 
the last few years. The jambs are formed by columnar pi- 
lasters, which are crowned by human-face capitals, from which 
springs the arch, the middle portion of which is carved into 
deep, horizontally projecting chevrons, over which is a row 
of faces, each differing from the other, and which may, for 
aught we know, have been portraits ; but all are now so much 
defaced by weathering on the surface, and by the pitting 
already alluded to, as to efface their individuality. 

* When O' Donovan was here in June, 1839, he wrote as follows— u The 
west gable contains the doorway, which was highly finished, very like that in 
the church of Kelleshin, near Carlow, but now much injured. It-consisted of 
three concentric arches, formed of red gritstone, but the two external ones 
are now nearly destroyed." To this description in the " Ordnance Letter 
Book for Galway," vol. iii., p. 49, is added a charming pen-and-ink sketch of 
the doorway, as it then existed, by W. Wakeman, who accompanied him. 
All the lower member, and a portion of the left-hand side of the middle, 
a chevron ornament, were then in situ. 



The impost capitals are of exceeding interest, as they 
show a form of beard plaiting and knotted hair work, which, 
though rarely represented in sculpture, were in all likelihood 
the Irish fashion of its day. These, on the north and south 
sides, are most faithfully represented in the annexed cut. 

Such may have been the pattern of the beard of Restitntus, 
the Lon go -bardic father of Lugnaedon.* A similar form of 
decoration is to be seen on the fillet underneath the cap of 

* A photograph does not bring out the beauties of this doorway as well 
as the pencil. When the foregoing illustration was made by Mr. AVake- 
man, the declining sun, then gradually throwing into relief the special 
peculiarities of this great work of early Irish art, served to produce the 
effect shown above. 




the Round Tower of Devenish on Lough Erne, which is pro- 
bably of contemporaneous antiquity. Another and later form 
of plaited beard is shown in the figures on the grand shrine 
of St. Monchan.* The entire space included by the pillars 
and mouldings of this entrance is 4 feet 10 inches. 

^oq, £># 'vh-- -> -*^<- / ^*^ 

Upon entering the church, the view here figured, faithfully 
drawn from a photograph kindly furnished by the Earl of Dun- 

* See the restored model of this shrine, made by the author, and now 
in the Kensington Museum. 



raven, presents us with the low undecorated chancel-arch, altar, 
and deeply splayed round-headed eastern light. This arch mea- 
sures 8 feet 7 inches in span ; and from the keystone to the 
flaggino* beneath is 9 feet 7 inches. 


The nave is 21 feet 7 inches by 12 feet 9 inches in the 
clear; and in the south wall there is a small, narrow, round- 
headed light, 6 feet from the ground, and deeply splayed in- 
side. In the western corner of that wall may be seen one of 
the most remarkable pieces of carving on the island. It con- 
sists of a flat, irregularly-shaped, reddish stone, 2 feet 2 inches 
high, and 3 feet 10 inches wide, built into the masonry in this 
Cyclopean wall, of which it evidently formed an original part. 
About thirty years 
ago a considerable 
portion of this stone 
was covered with 
plaster, so that it is 
evident, not only 
that it formed part 
of the original struc- 
ture, but that its 
carving was antece- 




dent to its present purpose. Indented upon its surface is the 
very ancient Greek or Byzantine cross here figured, the base 
or skeleton of which is of the same type as that on the stone 
of St. Brecan, at the Seven Churches in Aranmore, and on 



many ancient Irish tombstones. It is said that a similar cross 
exists at Ard-Oilean, or " High-Island," opposite the coast of 

The stone altar of this church is still perfect, and measures 
4 feet 7 inches, by 3 feet 4 inches wide, and 1 foot 10 inches 
high. Upon it are two remarkable indented stones : one has 
an oblong quadrilateral hollow, 6f inches long, by 4 wide ; the 
other, placed immediately under the small, eastern, round- 
headed single light, is a smooth stone, with an oval-shaped 
depression, 6 by 4 inches in diameter, capable of holding the 
closed fist — probably a very early font. It belongs to that class 
of cupped stones called in Aran, where they abound, Bullauns, 
and of which there are many at Glendalough, in Wicklow, of 
which "the deer stone" may be cited as an example. — See 
page 164. 

On a stone of the ancient flagged way leading up to the 
western end of this church, is carved a square cross, with fish- 
tail terminations, like those on Lugnaedon's stone, and which 
is, no doubt, of great antiquity also. 

Outside the north-east angle is a piece of square masonry, 
10J feet by 7 feet 8 inches, and about 4 feet high, believed 
to be the tomb of Muirgehas O'Nioc, Archbishop of Tuam, who 
died here in 1128. 

O'Flaherty, in whose footsteps we have been treading, wrote 
thus of this island in 1684: — " Inis an Ghoill, so called of a 
certain holy person who there lived of old, known only by the 


name of An Gall Craibhtheach, i. e. the devout foreigner ; for 
Gall (i. e. of the Gallick nation), they call every foreigner. So 
Inis an Ghoill, or the foreigner's island, between Ross and Moy- 
cullen barony on Lough Orbsen, contains half a quarter of 
pleasant land belonging to Cong Abbey, and hath a fine chapell 
therein, which is not for the buriall of any body." And further 
adds, that it " hath two chapells, the one dedicated to St. Pa- 
trick, the other to the saint of whom the island is named, which 
admits not the buriall of any body, but in the first it is usuall to 
bury." Very few interments now take place in the ancient 
cemetery of this island, portions of which, with the adjoining 
islets of Burr and Inishannagh, are planted, and will in time 
present a very picturesque appearance.* 

In pursuance of our route consecutively round the lake we 
must return to the south-east corner of Cong parish. Viewed 
from the steamer's deck, or from any northern or western point, 
the hilly district, where the parishes of Shrule and Cong meet, 
presents a most dreary aspect ; bare, brown, and crowded with 
intersecting walls, with scarcely a tree or house to relieve the 
eye ; but along the waters edge the view is diversified with 
foliage and the evidence of human habitation, especially Castle- 

* Although the perusal of the foregoing description of Inchangoill may 
while away the time spent in passing it, the details of this memorable locality 
are well worthy the tourist's attention. It can easily be visited from Cong 
village, to which we are now hastening, and to the Galway portion of which 
parish it belongs. 


town, the residence of Mr. Story, which forms a conspicuous 
object from all parts of the lake in any way west of it. It takes 
its name from an old castle, now so ruinous as not to afford 
materials for a sketch. 

Running out from the land in a western direction, and about 
a mile in length, is the long, low, narrow Island of Inishmica- 
treer, containing a few cottages, the meagre ruins of an an- 
cient church, and also a burial ground. Of this ecclesiastical 
building we have no account ; and there is not a single stone 
left whereby to judge of its style. It is, however, probable 
that on this island, as well as on the neighbouring one of 
Inchiquin, to which it is second in size, may have been erected 
one of those religious establishments referred to the times of 
Brendan, Meldan, and Fursseus ; for there is great difficulty 
in determining the precise topography of many of the places 
in this district mentioned by the hagiologists ; and when Col- 
gan wrote he was evidently not personally acquainted with 
the locality, and his sources of research were chiefly Conti- 
nental. The shores of this island abound with those peculiar 
perforated limestones already referred to at page 29 ; and at 
the eastern end they form a causeway, which, with the aid 
of " a plank," connects it in summer time with the main- 
land. This peninsular position may afford a derivation for the 
name of Inish-mic-tree?*, or tier, " the island of the land."* 

* By one of those extraordinary inconsistencies in Irish topography, 
this island, which is in the Mayo waters, and can be reached dryshod 


Taking up our itinerary where we left it, at the north-west- 
ern angle of the parish of Shrule, we meet the little churchyard 
of Billapark, one of a group of several such which stud this 
corner of the parish of Cong. Then we approach Hounds- 
wood, the seat of John S. Dawson, Esq., a little to the 
north-west of which commences, with Caher-Mayo, that vast as- 
semblage of stone forts, cairns, and circles, that culminate at 
Nymphsfield ; and to which, occupying as they do the site 
of the great battle of Moytura, it will be necessary to devote 
a special chapter. 

The river of Cross, already alluded to at page 23, opens 
into the northern end of a deep bay, surrounded on the north 
by the woods of Ballymagibbon, the residence of the Fynn 
family. In this deep bay there are a great number of small 
islands, upon one of which (Gibbs'), near "The salt house,"f 
there are persons now living who remember the timbers of a 

from the parish of Shrule, forms a part of the parish of Killannin, nearly 
ten miles distant across the lake, on the Galway shore. It is said that, 
when the O'Flahertys were driven from their territory of Magh Seola, on 
the east, to Gnomore and Gnobeg, on the west of Lough Corrib, " they 
took their islands with them," or retained possession of them, and this 
may account for the isolated position of this portion of Killannin. 

t " The Salt House," a very notable building on the shore of Lough 
Corrib ; is so called from one of the author's ancestors having erected it 
when salt was very scarce in Connaught for the manufacture of that ma- 
terial. Sea water and rock salt were brought from Galway, and here 
turned by evaporation into the edible material. The salt pans existed 
within the last twentv vears. 


surrounding stockade rising above low water ; so that it may 
fairly be conjectured, that crannoges existed here and in 
other parts of Lough Corrib in early times. 

Two roads on the west, and two others on the east, uniting 
at acute angles on each side of a small river running into 
Lough Corrib, give, together with a mill, dispensary, bridge, 
schoolhouse, a couple of shops, some cottages, a forge, and a 
public house, &c, the name of " Cross" to a village of some 
note and antiquity. 

About half a mile to the north-east of this village, on the 
Kilmain road, stands an antique quadrangular tower, commonly 
known as •' The Castle of Cross ;" and attached to its eastern 
side are the ruins of an early, and in some of its architectural 
details rather interesting church, of which the two following cuts 
are highly illustrative, although it has not been thought worthy 
of recognition on the Ordnance Maps. The tower, which is ex- 
ceedingly massive and well built, is now 22 feet high, and mea- 
sures 25 feet on the east, and 16 on the south side : and its walls 
are 3 feet 3 inches thick. It has a narrow lio-ht on each face ; 
and its pointed doorway, leading from the church, opens into a 
stone-roofed apartment, topped by another similar chamber, the 
only access to which is by a square aperture in the floor over 
the outer doorway, like those seen in secular defensive edifices. 
In all probability this tower, which was evidently constructed 
along with the church, was used not merely as a belfry, but as 
a residence for the clerics, and in troubled times a place of se- 



curity for the people and the ecclesiastical valuables, just as it 
is believed the round towers were. A great many churches 

in Ireland of the same architectural character as that of Cross 

are furnished with towers ; and, as if carrying out the idea 

of the primitive round tower, their architects have almost 

invariably placed their doorways at a considerable distance 

above the ground. A striking example occurs at Corcom- 

roe, in Clare, where the only opening giving access to the 

belfry tower is a square-headed doorway, placed about twelve 

feet from the ground. The church itself is 40 feet long 

and 19 wide, on the inside. Its northern w r all is 13 feet 

6 inches high, and the east gable is still standing, but formed 

of small stones, undressed, except at the angles, and in the 

double-lighted eastern window. The latter is deserving of a 

careful inspection, as its masonry exhibits a curious instance 

of economy and adaptation. The superincumbent weight of 



the gable is relieved by a solid arch of undressed stone be- 
low. Although the division between the lights, and also their 
outer edges, are all composed 
of chiselled stone, their inner 
jambs, a portion of the splays, 
and all the soffit and arches, 
are ingeniously constructed of 
carefully-selected blocks, that 
do not show the slightest trace 
of either chisel, punch, or 
hammer, as may be seen in 
the accompanying illustration. 
Although there are many le- 
gends afloat anent caillaghs, 
witches with black hafted 
knives, " weird sisters," and belated travellers, there is no 
real history of this building. It is situated in the townland 
of " Attyickard," as it is spelled on the map, but the proper 
name of which is Ath-Teach-Ricard, " The site of Richard's 
House," probably because a Burke had a hand in the con- 
struction of its castellated tower. To the south and west 
may be seen in a few minutes' walk several ancient remains — 
circles, forts, traces of Pagan sepultures, and caves — one of the 
latter in particular sunk in the middle of a fort, adjoining 
the site of the dilapidated village of the same name as the 
townland, is worthy of inspection. 



Returning to Cross, and in the grounds of Thomas Gildea, 
Esq., at Dowagh, we must visit one of the very oldest primi- 
tive Cyclopean churches in Ireland, and undoubtedly the most 
remarkable that occurs in our route — that of St. Fraughaun, 
the square-headed western doorway of which is here faithfully 
shown. Its walls are now 7 
feet high on an average, and 
2 feet thick ; its length is 18 
feet intside, 12 wide at the 
west, and 14 in breadth at 
the east end — a remarkable 
peculiarity. There are no 
remains of window apertures, 
as the east gable is no longer 
standing. The doorway here 
figured is 5 feet 8 inches 
high, and 2 feet 3 inches 
wide at bottom, the jambs 
inclining to 1 foot 11 inches 
at top, where they are covered by a massive lintel, 3 feet 5 
inches long, which spans the entire wall. The inner faces of 
the jamb stones are smooth, as at Killursa. 

That this building is a representative of the primitive Ora- 
tory and dwelling house of an early Irish saint, there can be no 
doubt. It was divided into an upper and lower apartment by 
a flat floor, some of the corbels of which yet remain ; and the 


space between this and the roof was, no doubt, the saint's sleep- 
ing apartment. We find the same arrangement in St. Kevin's 
Kitchen, St. Columba's House at Kells, Molua's House, and 
other buildings of the same peculiar class. The only difference 
between Kilfraughan and the others just mentioned is, that it 
had a dividing floor of timber, and the others one of stone, 
resting upon a barrel arch. This charming little ruin, which 
stands in the middle of a very ancient burial ground, and is 
surrounded by antique hollies and thorns, is highly venerated 
by the people, among whom there is a tradition, that from it 
was brought the clay with which the Abbey of Cong, was 

Of St. Fraughaun, if such a personage existed here, we 
know nothing ; and our annals, calendars, martyrologies, and 
the saints' lives make no mention of him. The ancient name of 
this church, and one which is still living among the old peo- 
ple, is Kill-ard-creave-na-Naoimh — literally, " the church of the 
high branch of the saints." Below its east end is a spring 
well of never-failing purity and supply, which, in fine wea- 
ther, when the great turloughs are dry, affords water for the 
neighbouring mill, and pours its stream into the Cross river.* 

* Within the precincts of this little church stands the tomb of a very 
memorable man in his day and generation, and by his life affording a type of 
many of the gentry of the West during the past century and a half. Well, 
with all your i'aults, Dick Blake, I cannot but remember how well you taught 
me to ride, keeping my " hands low down on the saddle" — what skilful di- 



To the north of this locality is Garracloon, the property and 
residence of Colonel Veitch. 

Continuing our route on to the village of Cong, through the 
great cairn-studded plain of Moytura, we meet another small 
ancient church called Killarsagh, in the townland of Ballyma- 
gibbon, of which 12 feet high of the east gable, with a small, 
round arched window in it, still 
remains, as shown in the accom- 
panying cut ; as also so much of 
the side walls as to give the mea- 
surement of its interior as 24 feet 
long by 16 J feet broad.* Again, 
a little nearer the lake, in the vil- 
lage of Gortachurra, " the field 
of the curragh" scrub or bot- 
tom, there formerly existed the 
ruins of a very small church, 
some of the large stones of which 
may still be discerned in the adjoining walls and cottages. 

From the hill of Tonlegee, overlooking this latter locality, 
was taken the accompanying view of Moytura House, the re- 

rections for shooting, and training setters and pointers, you gave me ; and 
with what pride you used to see me shoot the rising trout from off the bridge 
of Cross .... years ago. — W. R. W. 

* In the wall of this church there was, a few years ago, a carved stone, 
having in relief the figure of a child. It is now built into a coach-house 
in the vicinity. 



sidence of the Author, erected in 1865 ; and so called after the 
ancient battle-field on which it stands, with Benlevi Mountain 
in the distance, and Lough Corrib in front. The tower with 
the flagstaff stands within the enclosure of one of the ancient 

cahers of the battle field. This house commands a magnificent 
prospect to the west, south, and east, and can be seen from 
most parts of the middle lake. To the west of Moytura is Lac- 
kafinna — "the white flagstone" — the residence of Ormsby El- 
wood, Esq; ; and still nearer to Cong, over a small bay of the 
lake, stands Lisloughrey — " the rushy liss," or earthen fort — 
the residence of William Burke, Esq. 

We have passed the last navigation mark, and laid our 
course nearly due north towards the Cong river. From this 
point the mountain view presents one of its best aspects ; and 
the shores of Mayo and Galway, sloping down to the water's 


edge, are in many places pleasingly wooded. Leaving Coad 
Island on the left, we get among a group of islets at the mouth 
of the river, the outermost of which, Illaunree, or "the king's 
island," was said to have been a favourite retreat of O'Conor, 
the last Irish monarch, while sojourning in the neighbouring 
abbey ; and nearer the shore are Inish-Cong and Illaundarra. 

Now, dividing the waters of Mayo and Galway, we pass 
Cannaderry, "the peninsular headland," and enter the principal 
streamway which conducts the waters of Lough Mask into 
Lough Corrib. Well sheltered, wooded on both sides, having 
Kinlough on the right, the demesne of Ashford on the left, 
and Standhill, the seat of the Elwoods, in front, with the pretty 
spire of the parish church in the distance, it forms a picture of 
great beauty. The following illustration, taken from the eastern 
shore, represents the " Eglinton" passing under the demesne of 
Ashford, the noble seat of Sir B. L. Guinness, M. P., with his 
recently erected tower rising over the surrounding woods. 

Our steamer has been warped round the little island, and 
brought to her berth alongside the quay.* We leave her for 
the present ; and, starting for " The Carlisle Arms," in the vil- 
lage about half a mile distant, may visit two of the natural 
caves for which this locality is celebrated — The Lady's Buttery 

* In the river opposite Kinlough, the residence of Mr. Moran, at a place 
called Cushatruffe, "the foot of the stream," there is a small island round 
which the steamer is usually warped, but the removal of which would form a 
basin in which the vessel could easily turn. 



and the Horse Discovery, which both adjoin the road. Here, 
as we pass along by the canal referred to at page 35, we get 
a good view of the parish church,* the Koman Catholic chapel, 

and the eastern gable and window of the abbey, which with the 
history and antiquities of this ancient locality, will be described 
in the next chapter. 

* The simple architectural church of Cong, to which the lord of the soil 
has added a well-proportioned spire, is very well placed in an island between 
the land and two of the rivers. The chapel, for which a beautiful site was 
lately offered in the village, is placed within the abbey grounds, and is at 
present in process of reconstruction. 




CONG — in Irish, Cunga, " a neck," so called from its situation 
upon the isthmus that here divides Lough Mask from Lough 
Corrib, and also Conga- Fechin, in remembrance of its patron 
saint — is an island formed by a number of streams that sur- 
round it on all sides. There is water everywhere — gliding by 
in the broad river ; gushing from the surrounding rocks ; boiling 
up in vast pools that supply several mills ; oozing through the 
crevices of stones ; rising in the interior of caverns ; appearing 
and disappearing wherever its wayward nature wills ; passing 
in and out everywhere, except where man tried to turn it — into 
the monster dry canal. The village, which is approachable by 
four bridges, and occupies a small hill, is T-shaped, and con- 
sisted in 1861 of 88 houses, and 469 inhabitants. It is a 
market town, and was formerly a great milling depot ; to which 



latter circumstance, and the patronage of the adjoining exten- 
sive ecclesiastical establishment, it no doubt owed its origin. 
As the tourist approaches it, a good view of the eastern end 
of its old abbey is presented ; and, turning up by the main 
street, he has before him the base of the ancient cross, figured 
and described at page 185. 

Outside the confines of this village, the scene presents a 
remarkable contrast — upon the south and east, all is bare, grey 
limestone rock ; while on the west and south lies a beautiful, 
well-wooded, and highly cultivated demesne, through which 
glides the clear stream of the Cong River, up the lower por- 
tion of which we passed in the "Eglinton." The eastern roads 
lead to The Neale, Ballinrobe, and Kilmain, and by Headford 
to Galway ; and its south-western to Lough Mask, and through 
the Joyce's Country by Maam into Connamara. The northern 
and western streams divide the village from the county of 

The Annals of Cong, which, if all collected, would almost 
form a history of Ireland, might commence with the battle of 
Moytura, stated by the bards, and believed by the early writers, 
(where they assign dates to events), to have been fought in the 
year of the world 3303. For some centuries after that period, 
and down to the Christian era, the great plain to the west and 
north immediately adjoining this village, and on which the 
battle took place, was thickly studded with inhabitants, whose 
dwellings and monuments the tourist is now about to visit, and 

ST. FECHIN. 163 

which are certainly amongst the most remarkable in the British 
Isles. It does not appear, either from history or tradition, 
that St. Patrick or his attendants visited Cong, or that his im- 
mediate successors approached nearer to it than Inchangoill ; 
but, in the seventh century, St. Fechin of Fore, struck, per- 
haps, with the extraordinary resemblance which the natural 
features of Cong, and its underground rivers, &c, bore to his 
ecclesiastical home in Westmeath, is said to have blessed this 
neck of land, from which the extensive parish of Cong still 
takes its name, and to have erected a church here ; and the 
good man left his track, and gave his name to several holy 
wells and churches in the district westward of this village. 

It is also said that, so early as A. D. 624, an Irish king, 
Domhnall Mac Aedh Mac Ainmire, founded an abbey here, 
and that St. Fechin was its first abbot. The hagiologists, or 
saints' historians, must settle this question. Colgan also states 
that Cong was <{ celebrated for divers churches, as their walls 
and remains at this day testify." Such may have been the 
case at the beginning of the seventeenth century, but they 
no longer exist, and the name of only one remains, attached 
to the field of the Killeen-breac, or "little speckled church," 

* St. Fechin died of the great yellow plague, or Buidhe Chonnaile, that 
twice devastated Ireland, first in 539, and then in 664 ; for which, and other 
pestilences, see the Author's collected references in his dissertation on the 
subject in " The Tables of Deaths,"' published among the Census Reports 
for 1851, Part v., vol. i., pp. 50 and 416, &c. 

M 2 




to the south of the present abbey grounds. There is, how- 
ever, a stone near the river side, in an old garden to the left 
of the second eastern bridge, which takes precedence of all 
other stones in Cong, upon which the craft of man had been 
exercised in Christian times, and which, as known by the Irish 
name of Leach-na-poll, or the " flagstone of the holes," is 
here figured. It is a large triangular red grit flag, 2 feet 
thick, and 8 J feet 
long in its great- 
est diameter, from 
under which a ne- 
ver-failing limpid gn 
spring issues. Its 4% 
upper surface is jj 
hollowed into five 
basin-like smooth excavations, averaging 12 inches wide, and 
4^ deep, and usually known as Bullauns, from the Latin bulla, 
a bowl ; and which, from their being invariably found in im- 
mediate connexion with the most ancient churches, may be 
regarded as primitive baptismal fonts. — See page 147. 

What description of church St. Fechin erected here and 
dedicated to the Virgin before his death, in 664, or where it 
stood, is unknown, although Colgan states, in the Acta Sanc- 
torum, that it w T as " his own monastery." But in truth the 
Irish church of that period w T as but the daimliag, or domh- 
nach, already described at page 107 ; and the Culdees or 


early ecclesiastics lived either within it, or in stone cells, or 
cloghaunes, or in wooden houses, in the surrounding enclo- 
sure, and occasionally in the adjoining round tower. 

Cong was originally a bishopric, and with those of Tuam, 
Killala, Clonfert, and Ardcharne, was named among the five 
sees of the province of Connaught, regulated by the Synod 
of Rath-Breasill, in Leagh (the present Queen's County), in 
the year 1010 ;* but, as stated at page 64, the see was shortly 
afterwards removed to Enaghdun. Keating also styled it a 

In 1114 the Annals of the Four Masters state that Cunga, 
with Kilbanon and several other ecclesiastical establishments, 
"were all burned this year." The bishopric removed, and the 
cathedral burned ; but the odour of sanctity still clinging to the 
venerable locality, hallowed by the remembrance of St. Fechin, 
a fine opening offered to the Augustinians to display their 
architectural taste, and to establish their ecclesiastical power 
in Connaught — so that probably between the former date and 
1127-28, when the deaths of two of its Airenaghs (or con- 
ventual superiors), Gilla-Keerin O'Roda, and O'Draeda, are re- 

* " This synod made the following decree respecting Connaught : — 
' If the clergy of Connaught be satisfied with the division, we are well 
pleased ; but if not, let the division be made according to their own plea- 
sure, onlie they shall have but five bishops in the province of Connaught.' " — 
See Hardiman's additional notes to O'Flaherty's " H-Iar Connaught,'' 
p. 155, 


corded, the abbey and monastery were founded. This mag- 
nificent establishment was erected for Canons Kegular of the 
Order of St. Augustine, whose vast territories and rich pos- 
sessions extended not merely throughout Connaught, but into 
several counties in the South and East of Ireland ;* in whose 
keeping were placed the great family deeds and records of 
the West country chieftains and landed proprietors ; who con- 
structed the grandest piece of metal work of its age now ex- 
tant in Europe ; whose principal was a Lord Abbot ; and 
who left us the beautiful structure we are now hastening to 

To fill up, however, the middle distance, and paint the 
foreground of the historic picture of Cong after the erection 
of its abbey and monastery, without stopping to notice the 
accession or to record the deaths of its dignitaries, we find 
it the peaceful sanctuary of the last monarch of Ireland during 
the ruthless times which followed the English invasion, when 
the O'Conors and O'Donnells, sometimes joining with, and 
sometimes fighting against, the Anglo-Normans, devastated the 
country, pillaging and burning the abbeys and churches, and 
then slaughtering one another ; — down through the dark period 
of Saxon misrule and legalized injustice, when the white- 
rocheted friars formed their last long-winding procession, as, 

* The property of the Abbey of Cong, and especially their great es- 
tates in Joyce-Country and Connamara, were, in the reign of Elizabeth, 
granted to the Provost and Fellows of Trinity College, Dublin. 


passing out of their beauteous abbey they wound their way 
with lingering footsteps over the adjoining bridge, and took 
their lompo-tuaghfil, or "left-handed turn," ere they cast a final 
look upon its tall tower and peaked gables, cutting sharp 
and clear against the western sky. 

The Augustinian monks have departed — the bells have 
tolled their last peal ; the altar lights are extinguished ; a 
few valuables, snatched in haste, have been preserved, and 
Cong is a ruin — whence every sculptured stone that could 
be removed was built into the hovels around — and which 
was barely held together by the fostering arms of the luxu- 
riant ivy, until lately cleared of rubbish, and its mullioned 
windows and decorated doorways carefully restored. 

What an eventful period has intervened, during which 
Cong and its environs were granted to the Kings and Bing- 
hams, or were possessed by the O'Donnells and the Brownes — 
when Macnamara, the freebooter, and Webb, the murderer, 
left tales for the guides and their gaping auditors to batten 
upon — when it was attempted to alter and amend religious 
opinion by persecution and penal enactments — when law, if at 
all administered without the aid of the cudgel or the horse- 
whip, was an injustice : and clerical magistrates (not in the 
days of Cromwell) could command the regular army to re- 
move from public view a stone bearing the name of two vener- 
able, and perhaps pious, ecclesiastics, who flourished here some 
eight hundred years ago ! 


Governmental confiscations of property there were in abun- 
dance. Debts accumulated as the result of reckless extrava- 
gance, contested elections, unsuccessful horse racing. Chancery 
suits transmitted for generations, bills of cost, interest on loans, 
and mortgages — the dowers of dowagers, and the jointures of 
grandmothers and aunts. All these kept the gentry poor ; but 
they were tolerably loyal to the State, which sheltered them in a 
country where the king's writ did not run. The people were 
also poor, and likewise ignorant, improvident, and uneducated, 
although far superior to the same class in the sister country ; 
but they were disloyal — not so much on account of Protestant- 
ism, tithes, Catholic disabilities, the want of educational re- 
sources, or any other real or sentimental grievance, but because 
they had never been conquered by either force, justice, or 
kindness. However, wdiat diplomacy and the sword could not 
effect for so many centuries, a single night of blight, followed 
by a few years' failure of the tuber introduced by Raleigh, 
achieved. It cut off almost in a moment the food of an entire 
nation. The rent ceased ; the mortgagees were unpaid ; the 
agents failed ; the poor rates could not be collected. Pestilence 
followed the famine ; the herds diminished ; the workhouses 
buried such of the dead as had not fallen by the wayside ; 
emigration helped off the remaining living ; the Incumbered 
Estates Court sold up the bankrupt landlords, as in a sheriff's 
sale, and often at half the value of the land ; the old proper- 
ties changed hands ; and, although hundreds of thousands were 


lost both to the owners and creditors, new blood was infused, 
and new life and energy thrown into the country. And now, 
the old Abbey of Cong, and the adjoining estates, with many 
a mile to westward of this famed locality, haA r e been purchased 
with the produce of ability, honest industry, and successful 
commercial enterprise.* 

The ruins of Cong church and monastery occupy the south- 
western angle of the island, but have become so mixed up with 
modern buildings, that it is now difficult to find a point of view 
from which to give a good representation of the entire. The 
succeeding illustration, taken upwards of forty years ago by 
Samuel Lover, E. H. A., from a point somewhat to the north- 
east of the bridge of the Killeen-breac, so truthfully represents 
the scene, that with his permission it is introduced upon the 
following page.f 

Among the splendid ecclesiastical remains of Cong, the 
twelfth century advocates may revel, and defy us to prove an 
earlier date for their erection than that of the introduction of 

* What a great and memorable chronicle it would form, and possibly 
one beneficial to future generations, could the following be tabulated : — 
The original name of each territory, and by what tribe or chieftain pos- 
sessed — into what hands such estates passed, extending over many centuries, 
which could in most instances be done — who last possessed it ; how it was 
acquired ; by what means it was incumbered when put up for auction ; and, 
finally, who purchased it, and how the price of it was created. 

t See the " Irish Penny Magazine" for January, 1841, with a memoir on 
Cong, by the late John D' Alton. 



the Augustinian order into Ireland, even if their ornamentation 
and design did not afford ample data for judging of their age. 
These ruins would scarcely have held together to the pre- 
sent day, had not Sir B. L. Guinness restored several of the 
dilapidations, cleared out much of the rubbish which had ac- 

cumulated within and around them, and rendered the burial 
ground sufficiently decent for the interment of Christian peo- 
ple.* As the following observations, made nearly thirty years 

* Among the restorations lately effected may be particularly specified, 
those of the completion of the arch over the central light of the east window, 
and the introduction of the missing stones in the decorated doors and win- 
dows of the beautiful western fa qade, described at p. 179. All these resto- 
rations were carved from the native limestone by Mr. Peter Foy, of Cong, 
and his work bears careful comparison with that of the original artist.-. 


ago upon this abbey by that keen observer, graphic, witty de- 
scribes and patriotic antiquary, Caesar Otway, faithfully accord 
with our own early recollections of Cong, we here insert them 
in order that the contrast may be the more striking : — " Though 
the Connaught abbeys suffered less waste and demolition from 
those who originally suppressed them, the busy and fond super- 
stition that turned their interior into places of much- desired se- 
pulture, has defaced and destroyed what the avarice of Henry's 
courtiers and the curse of Cromwell had spared ; and so -there 
is now no one to care for and protect an Irish abbey — it, instead 
of being allowed to repose in the much-respected solitude of a 
Tintern, a Bolton, or Fountains, in England, is now anything but 
beautiful, it is not even decent ; the genius loci, outraged, we 
might almost personify as weeping, while all round is disgraced 
and desecrated." And, after describing the rooting pigs and 
the rioting boys that he found enjoying themselves among the 
ruins, he adds, " Whoever enters an Irish abbey, let him be 
Protestant or Eomanist, must sigh for some law appointing con- 
servators* able to restrain the ignorant and reckless hands 

* A few years ago, long after the foregoing was written, the author, and 
other members of The Celtic Society, had considerable trouble in rescuing 
from destruction the sculptured tombs in the old church of Lusk, and in the 
Port- Lester chapel attached to St. Audoen's Church, in Dublin, which were 
about to be sold as " old materials'' to contractors by the Irish Ecclesias- 
tical Commissioners, composed of archbishops, bishops, judges, and others 
" learned in the law," but neither versed in the history of their country, nor 
anxious to preserve the monuments of the past. 


that are, day after clay, obliterating the religious monuments of 
the island. And here let me be allowed another remark re- 
specting the, to me, evident difference that exists between the 
monastic remains previous and subsequent to the Anglo-Nor- 
man conquest. Of the former we find no remains that were 
not directly devoted to religious worship, churches, oratories, 
crypts, and shrines (except the round towers, which alone 
seem to have answered any secular purpose). The old Irish 
monastic, in his Culdee simplicity, was contented with his little 
hermitage composed of wattles, his humble cell of perishable 
materials ; living on the milk of a few cows, and the fish that 
the adjoining river (as at Cong) abundantly supplied ; enough 
for him was the conviction, that at the approach of the barba- 
rous spoiler he could retreat, with his vestments and holy things, 
by means of a ladder, into the round tower, through its high- 
placed door ; from thence to see his humble cell committed to 
the flames, there to bear the privations he was so well accus- 
tomed to, until the ravagers retreated, and the tyranny was 
overpast." And, of Cong, he further adds, " I have seldom, 
indeed, seen a place so dilapidated ; I was not only disap- 
pointed, but vexed, to see it so overthrown and dismantled."* 
We enter the abbey from the village by a very beautiful 
doorway, which, although it has been often figured, we would 

* See the Rev. Csesar Otway's " Tour in Connaught," 1839. 

o'conor's TOMB. 1 (o 

liere present to our readers, but that we know it is of the " com- 
posite order," having been made up some years ago of stones 
taken from another arch in this northern wall. Within it, we 
find ourselves in the great abbey church, 140 feet long, en- 
tirely paved with tombstones ; — facing the east window, with 
its three long, narrow lights, and having in each side wall of 
the chancel a slender window looking north and south. The 
chancel walls are perfect, but the northern wall of the nave no 
longer exists. Underneath the chancel window the guides and 
village folk maintain that Roderick O'Conor was buried, when, 
after fifteen years' retirement within this abbey, he died here in 
1198. But this we know from history to be incorrect, for the 
Donegal Annals distinctly state that " Ruodri Ua Concobair, 
King of Connaught and of all Ireland, both the Irish and Eng- 
lish, died among the canons at Cong, after exemplary penance, 
victorious over the world and the devil. His body was con- 
veyed to Clonmacnois, and interred on the north side of the 

But, although Roderick himself was not buried here, others 
of his name and lineage were. Thus we read that, in 1224, 
"Maurice the Canon, son of Roderick O'Conor — the most illus- 
trious of the Irish "for learning psalm-singing and poetical com- 
positions, died — and was interred at Cong." It is probably his 
tomb which is pointed out as that of the king. " A. D. 1226, 
Nuala, daughter of Roderick O'Conor, and Queen of Ulidia, 
died at Conga Fechin, and was honourably interred in the 


church of the canons."* And, in 1247, Finola, daughter of 
King Roderick, died at, and was probably buried at, Cong. 
But, although the dust of the last monarch is not beneath 
our feet, that of chieftains, warriors, and prelates remains, and 
especially that of the abbots, down to the days of James Lynch, 
whose decorated tomb is dated 1703; and even later, for the 
Rev. Patrick Prendergast, who was always styled "The Lord 
Abbot," *was interred here in 1829.f 

Several of these ecclesiastical tomb flags are decorated with 
crosses, fleur-de-lis, chalices, and ornate croziers, &c; and there 
are a few Latin inscriptions in raised letters, but with one ex- 
ception no Irish writing can be discerned anywhere within the 
confines of the abbey. In the south wall there is a recess, with 

* " Annals of the Four Masters." Nuala was " the wife of Mae 
Donslevy, who was at that period styled King of Uladh," or that por- 
tion of Ulster " lying eastwards of Glenree, Lough Neagh, and the Lower 
Bann." — See O'Donovan's note, under a. d. 1226. 

•j- There is a tradition that, when the few remaining Canons were driven 
forth from this monastery, they were harboured by some of the author's an- 
cestors at Ballymagibbon ; and upon one of the farms of that property, now 
called Abbotstown, Father Prendergast resided till the day of his death, at 
the round age of eighty-eight. He was a very fine, courteous, white-haired 
old man — a good specimen of the St. Omers' priest of sixty years ago. He 
did not nominate a successor, nor was such appointed by any Irish chapter, 
or by the General Abbot at Rome. Prendergast succeeded Abbot O'Maley. 
He was the owner of several reliques, which he used to take great pride in 
showing and explaining to the author, when a boy — the cross of Cong, the 
shrine of St. Patrick's tooth, and the piece of linen marked with the blood 
of the martyr, &c — See pages 188 to 196, &c. 



a circular arch, probably the tomb of the founder, or some mu- 
nificent endower ; there are also in his south wall piscinae, and 
other minor details of church architecture, unnecessary to 
describe ; and lower down upon the same side is the small 
chapel-tomb of the Berminghams, once so powerful in Ireland, 
and who so identified themselves with their adopted country, 
that they dropped the Norman name, and assumed that of 
Mac Feoris. They became Lords of Athenry, and acquired 
great possessions in Connaught.* 

During the clearances recently made, a few objects of inte- 
rest were discovered, and among them a stone, bearing a portion 
of the incised cross here figured. 
It is too narrow to have been a 
monumental nap-, the longest arm 
of the cross being but thirteen 
inches ; it was probably one of 
the terminal crosses that marked 
the boundaries of the ancient 
sacred enclosure. 

Another stone of still greater 
interest, discovered in making 
these restorations, is the quadrangular fragment of the shaft of 
an ancient cross, which in all probability is a portion of the 

* The late Earls of Leitrim and Charlemont married the last two of 
the female line of the Mayo and Galway Berminghams, who held the 
Ross-Hill and other large estates westward of Cong.— See p. 189. 


o' duffy's cross. 

village cross referred to at page 185 ; for not only docs it bear 
the same names as those on the base of the latter, but it ac- 
curately fits the mortise in that plinth, being 16 inches by 8. 
This stone, now about 2 feet high, and the two inscribed faces 
of which upon opposite sides are here figured, is at present 
placed in the east Avindow. 

The inscription, which is in 
ancient raised letters, means — 
A prayer for Niahol and Gille- 
bard O'Dubthaigh, or O'Duffy, who were abbots of Cong ; but 
which inscription is more perfect on the plinth of the market 
cross, figured and described at page 185. 

The O'DufTys were distinguished ecclesiastics in this lo- 
cality, and the Annals contain many entries concerning them. 
Thus we read that in " A. D. 1150 Muireadhach Ua Dubh- 
thaigh, Archbishop of Connaught, chief senior of all Ireland 
in wisdom, in chastity, in the bestowal of jewels and food, 
died at Conga on the 16th of the month of May, on the festi- 
val of St. Brenainn, in the 75th year of his age. 1 ' His name 
is inscribed on the great processional " Cross of Cong," made 
in 1123. — Sec page 194. 

the o'duffys. 177 

"A. D. 1168. Flannagan Ua Dubhthaigh, bishop and chief 
doctor of the Irish in literature, history, and poetry, and in 
every kind of science known to man in his time, died in the 
bed of Mnireadhach Ua Dubhthaigh, at Cunga." — See page 196. 

Cadhla or Catholicus 'Duffy, and several of the name, 
attained to the see of Tuam ; in 1136, we read of the death 
at Clonfert, of Donnell O'Duffy, " Archbishop of Connaught, 
and successor of Ciaran, head of the wisdom and piety of the 
province ;" and Kele O'Duffy was Bishop of " Mayo of the 
Saxons " in 1209. But none of these died abbots of Cong, 
and the only Abbot of the name referred to in the Annals is 
the one described by the Four Masters in the following quo- 
tation, under the year 1223 : — 

"Oubcach ua bubcaigh abb Con^a Oecc. 
" Duffagh O'Duffy, Abbot of Cong, died." 

As to who this " Gillibard," or Gilla-Bard, was, we have no 
clue from an examination of the Annals, and cannot, there- 
fore, state when his death occurred ; but it must have been 
subsequent to that of Duffagh and Niahol ; and was probably 
in the beginning of the thirteenth century. 

Before leaving this church and its crosses, let us perform an 
act of partial expiation, by introducing to the visitor the follow- 
ing illustration, showing the four decorated sides of a portion of 
the shaft of a very beautiful sandstone cross, which was ab- 
stracted from these ruins many years ago, but is still in exis- 




tence* The two end portions of the illustration represent the 
sides ; the left-hand middle is the front, and the right the 






back, which latter is countersunk, evidently for the insertion 
of a metal plate, which was probably inscribed with the name 
of the person who erected it, or to whose memory it was 
raised. The top is mortised for the reception of the tenon 
of the upper portion of the shaft. 

The original plan of this abbey is not easily made out at 
present. Through an arched doorway in the southern wall 

* This cross, which is now 23 inches high, is in the pleasure-ground 
at Moy tura, and is by some believed to have been in the possession of the 
late Father Prendergast. Others say it was rescued from the dilapidations 
at Cong by the late Mr. Fynn, the author's relative, and at that time 
proprietor of the Moytura property. 

When the broken shaft of O'DufFy's cross, now in the east window, is 
restored to its position upon the base of the market or street cross, this 
beautiful piece of mediaeval work shall be restored to the abbey. 



we pass into a low vaulted apartment, and thence into a large 
open space containing the principal stairs, which lead up to 
the second story of the great tower, the upper portion of 
which, however, no longer exists. The space to the east and 
south of this, which was formerly occupied by the monastery, 
is now a graveyard, and the site of the Koman Catholic chapel, 
and is divided by a high screen wall, the western facade of 
which forms the present great architectural feature of this splen- 
did pile, and is well shown in the subjoined illustration. It 
measures 80 feet in length, and contains a doorway and two 

windows, with circular arches ; and two large and most elabo- 
rately ornamented lancet-headed doors, with under-cut chev- 
rons along the deep moulding of the arches, which spring 

N 2 



from clustered pillars, the floral capitals of which — all of dif- 
ferent patterns — present us with one of the finest specimens of 
twelfth century stone-work in Ireland.* This cut represents 
a portion of these highly 
ornate imposts. Above the 
string course appear some 
narrow lights, probably those 
of the dormitories. To the 
west of this wall stood the 
open cloisters, which were 
probably so low as not to 
obscure the decorated front 
represented on the forego- 
ing page. From this point 

the ground slopes gradually to the river, where, according to 
tradition, the friars of old had a fish house — the walls of which 
are still standing — so constructed that, when the salmon or 
trout got into the crib below, it touched a wire, that rang a 
bell, to inform the providore or cook of its arrival. 

Standing between the river and the abbey, the picture na- 
turally rises before us of the aged monarch, broken down by 
the calamities which his country was suffering from a foreign 

* Several stones have been recently inserted in these doorways, which 
now present us with some of the finest and most enduring specimens of 
carved limestone in either this or any other country. 


invasion, which he was no longer able to resist — but still more 
so by the opposition and ingratitude of his own children and 
relatives — passing up the river with his retinue, landing here 
in 1183, and received by the Lord Abbot and his canons 
and friars ; and then taking leave of his faithful adherents at 
the water's edge, being conducted in procession to the abbey, 
which, it is said, his munificence had endowed. There, as a 
recluse untrammelled by the weight of state affairs, and pos- 
sibly unaffected by the quarrels of his chieftains and kins- 
folk, the Last Monarch of Ireland, abdicating his authority 
because the country no longer supported him, died, a sad, 
but fitting and prophetic emblem of the land over which he 
had ruled. 

Within the abbey grounds, on the north-west, formerly stood 
the ruins of Macnamara's house, which Bishop Pococke, writ- 
ing in the year 1770, says, was the most delightfully-situated 
residence he had seen in the course of his travels ; a fragment 
of it still remains. More to the west there recently existed 
the residence of the late proprietor, A. C. Lambert, Esq., 
constructed of the unhewn, weather-worn, but square stones, 
collected in the locality. Being no longer required, and not 
being quite congruous with the scene, it has been removed. 

Passing under an arch,* and over a bridge lately con- 

* The antiquary may think that the royal head with which the key- 
stone of this arch is decorated should have been crowned with an Irish 
diadem, and not an English crown. 



structed of immense flagstones taken from the river's becL we 
pass into Ashford, the demesne of Sir B. L. Guinness, the 
view of whose residence, taken from near the quay, is figured 
below. Let another describe it, and its environs. " Whether," 

says Sir Bernard Burke, in alluding to Cong, " you consider 
its unbounded fertility, the varied beauties of its surface, or 
the historical events which invest every plain and every moun- 
tain with an interest peculiarly its own, it stands forth to the 
lover of the wild and the beautiful, to the antiquarian and 
the geologist as unsurpassed by any portion of the British 
Empire. And we do not hesitate to insist that in this island, 
so favoured, the ancient town and neighbourhood of Cong 

a.nhford. 183 

are pre-eminent ; in each of the particulars above alluded to, 
this portion of the counties of Galway and Mayo is unrivalled 
in its peculiarities. It presents a varied surface of contra- 
dictory elements — streams of barrenness and fertility, exqui- 
site beauty and wild desolation ; green valleys and rocky 
plains, lakes and rivers, and huge mountains, are so thrown 
together in wild confusion, that it would almost seem as if 
nature had wandered here in one of her sportive moods, pro- 
ducing on every side such a marvellous contrast and variety. 
It is in the loveliest part of this district that the property is 
situated, of which we have engaged to furnish a few particu- 
lars. Ashford, formerly a residence of Lord Oranmore, oc- 
cupies one of the most striking and beautiful sites in the 
whole island ; and is situated on the right bank of the river, 
which, flowing past the ruins of the ancient abbey of Cong, 
is adorned in its short course with all that can constitute the 
interesting and picturesque. The writer," and the author also, 
" well remembers this mansion, now comfortable, a dilapidated 
building, in the midst of a neglected domain — a very picture 
of poor Ireland herself when stricken by famine and pesti- 
lence. It was built by one of the family of Brown, about a 
century and a half ago, somewhat in the style of the French 
chateau. The situation was well chosen ; and the founder made 
it an exception to the almost genera] rule, that Irish mansions 
are erected near to, but not upon, the most eligible spots. 
The river, the lake, the deep and solemn woods that environ 


it, the extreme fertility of the domain — encircled as it were 
by a framework of bare rocks and interminable waters — con- 
stitute a species of oasis in this wild district, at once lovely, 
striking, and peculiar."* 

Within the demesne, and in the immediate vicinity of the 
handsome tower recently erected here, and shown in the fore- 
going illustration, there can be seen one of those arti6cial caves 
formed by the ancient Firbolgs, or Tuatha de Dananns, to which 
we shall have occasion to refer hereafter ; but, as it is so nigh 
at hand, the visitor should inspect it now. This cave, called 
Lisheenard, " the small fort of the height," which is sunk with- 
in an ancient circular rath, now surrounded with aged hazels, 
measures 27 feet from its eastern entrance to its turn to the 
south, which latter portion is 24 long. Its average height is 
6-J feet ; and it is roofed with immense flags, supported on pro- 
jecting corbels, as explained in the general description of these 
troglodyte habitations, at page 203. There is also here a na- 
tural grotto, called Teach Aille, "the house in the cliff," where 
the waters of Lough Mask present themselves externally in 
their transit through the various north-western pools and ca- 
verns to Lough Corrib. Let us re-cross the river by Toin-a- 
Chaislean, "the bottom of the castle," or site of the old castle 
of Cong, which certainly existed in the days of Roderick 

* See " A Visitation of the Seats and Arms of the Noblemen and 
Gentlemen of Great Britain ami Ireland," by Sir Bernard Burke, Ulster 
King of Arms : 1858, pp. 241, 242. 



O'Flaherty, but the last fragment of which was removed about 
twenty years ago, when "the circular road" of Cong was con- 


Now, that we come prepared with historic knowledge, de- 
rived from our visit to the abbey, let us inspect the Street or 
Market Cross, the dark limestone plinth or base of which, with 
a carefully engraved fac simile of its inscription, is here shown, 

'M^mm mn R m^ &@miKhi 

€im>B @Bm :miglOTnriOw^ 


irm^ otk 

the translation being — U A prayer for Niahol [Kicol, or Neal], 
and for Gillibard [Gilbert] O'Dubthaidh [O'Duffy], who were 
abbots of Cong."* It is 16 inches high, and measures 36 by 
30 inches upon the upper surface, into the step or mortise of 
which the present shaft in the abbey originally fitted. There 
is now a plain modern shaft in its place, the cap of which, to- 
gether with the three steps on which the plinth now rests, was 

* This inscription — which is in substance the same as above, but not 
transcribed from a rubbing — was brought under the notice of the Royal 
Irish Academy, in 1855, by the Rev. Dr. Todd, and has been printed in 
the Proceedings of that body, vol. vi., p. 225. 


erected by the Elwood family in the famine year of 1822 : prior 
to which the base stood upon a large block of natural rock, 
which, however, together with the inscribed base, &c, was re- 
moved, as it was regarded as an obstruction to the thorough- 
fare.* This inscription is not in the Irish character, but in 
the black letter text of the fourteenth century ; and as it is, 
perhaps, the last place in our route where we shall meet with 
such writing, and as this junction of the counties of Mayo and 
Galway affords a fitting place for its introduction, a few words 
upon the present statistical condition of the Irish language 
may not be inappropriate. 

Except the gentry, nearly every person, young or old, in 
this parish speaks the Irish, and many do not use any other 
tongue. When Hely Dutton wrote his Statistical (?) Survey of 
the County of Galway, in 1824, he remarked upon the increase 
of the English language in the West, and repeated the well- 
known adage, that "The natives of Ulster have the right phrase, 
but not the pronunciation ; Munster, the pronunciation, but not 
the phrase ; Leinster has neither ; Connaught has both." The 
first Census of the Irish-speaking population was taken in 1851, f 

* This is the circumstance alluded to at p. 168. After the inscribed stone 
had been removed as an " offender" to the barracks, the gentleman who had 
it taken down placed it a little way to the north of the abbey door ; but the 
popular feeling was so strongly expressed upon the subject, that it was even- 
tually restored to its former site, where it now stands. 

f At the instance of the author, then one of the Census Commissioners. 


and then it was found that, in a population of 6,574,278, as 
many as 233 per cent, spoke Irish ; but ten years subsequently 
a decrease of 4-2 per cent, had taken place throughout the 
country in this respect, as in March, 1861, when the last Census 
was taken, and the total number of inhabitants was 5,798,967, 
the entire Irish-speaking population amounted to only 1,105,536, 
or 19*1 per cent. Of these, 163,275, spoke Irish only, and the 
remainder professed a vernacular knowledge of both languages. 
Comparatively few literate persons could either read or write 
Irish. In 1851 more than half the inhabitants of the province 
of Connaught could speak their native language ; even still the 
counties of Galway and Mayo afford the greatest number of 
Irish-speaking people, and in 1861 as many as 73,740 therein 
were returned as unable to speak English. The spoken Gaelic 
is hourly dying out ; and in twenty years more the oldest lan- 
guage in north-western Europe, if we except that of the Lapps 
and other extreme northern tribes, will have ceased to be 
used. Fortunately, however, and thanks to the exertions made 
by a few patriotic individuals, and to the labours of O'Dono- 
van and O'Curry, the written language has been preserved — 
for ever. 

Had the Irish language been cultivated by the upper classes 
as was proposed by many eminent scholars and divines, it 
might, perhaps, have had an influence upon many subjects con- 
nected with the interests of this country. The old tale is still 
repeated, that when Elizabeth, wishing to learn something of 


the tongue of her Irish dependency, asked for a specimen, this 
was repeated to her — Digh dabh dubh uv labh, " A black ox 
ate a raw egg 1 — which certainly, when pronounced rapidly, is 
not very euphonious, although, perhaps as much so as the reply 
said to have been given to her of, " Beg-a-big-egg, beg-a-big- 
egg,^ as a specimen of Iter native language. At all events, 
the Irish-speaking people never make a grammatical mistake 
when conversing in their vernacular, and most usually speak 
the English language more correctly than the same classes on 
the other side of the Channel. 

To follow out the history or annals of Cong in succession 
during the fourteenth and subsequent centuries, would be a 
mere recital of the dissensions of rival chieftains, the feuds of 
hostile clans, or of the Saxon against the Celt ; but, before we 
leave the shadow of the abbey walls, some memorabilia of this 
parish and abbey claim a passing reference. These reliques con- 
sisted formerly of the Crois- Gunge, or great processional cross of 
Cong ; the Fiachal Phadrig, or shrine of St. Patrick's tooth ; 
the Clogh-dubh, or black bell of St. Patrick ; and the Foil-a-ree, 
or King's blood. This last consisted of a bit of discoloured 
linen, said to have been dipped in the blood of Charles I. at 
the time of his decapitation at Whitehall, and which was be- 
lieved to possess the royal or Stewart faculty of curing the 
king's evil. Hundreds came to be "touched" by Abbot Pren- 
dergast ; and in all probability this was the latest instance in 
which this rite was exercised in the British Isles. When last 


heard of, this scrofula-curing rag was in the possession of a 
family near Ballindine. 

The Fiachal Phadrig is a handsomely decorated shrine of 
wood, in the form of a horse shoe, satchel, or reticule, 11 J inches 
high by 9 wide, and somewhat wedge-shaped ; and it is said, tra- 
ditionally, to have been constructed to hold one of the teeth of 
our Patron Saint. It is, however, believed that there are other 
reliques of a similar kind still in the country. It is 1J inch thick 
at bottom, and fines off to a thin metal plate at the narrow top, 
in continuation of the highly decorated rim which originally 
surrounded it, but which, like other portions of the brass, 
silver, and gilt materials, has been much injured, and bears 
the marks of "tinkers' hands" in the mode of soldering. On 
the chief or front side is a crucifixion in metal work, with two 
figures on each side; and below it an arcade of trefoil arches. 
Beneath, there is a row of four (there were five originally) 
raised gilt figures, holding books, shrines, and croziers ; and 
from an inscription underneath we learn that they represent- 
ed Saints "Benon, Brigida, Patric, Columqille, Brendan," and 
between which and the silver plate to which they are attached 
is inserted, either as a relique or for artistic purposes, a por- 
tion of fine linen. 

On the front is an imperfect inscription, the upper line of 
which is in embossed — the lower is in the raised character of 
the twelfth or fourteenth century : — " Thomas de Bramichem : 
Diis : de Athen — me fecit ornari pisca parte." This Thomas 


de Bermingham was probably the Lord of Athenry in the thir- 
teenth or fourteenth century ; but certainly the original shrine 
is older than his time. 

On the back or reverse side is a raised, but unfigured cross, 
on each side of which are a series of figures — two raised, and 
two engraved on the silver plate. Two of these are of eccle- 
siastics, holding croziers ; and one is that of a female holding 
a harp, which is well worthy of inspection, as it is probably one 
of the oldest representations of that instrument which we now 
possess. The shrine is also highly decorated with crystals, 
stones, and amber, placed in collated studs, like those in the 
shrine of St. Monchan of Leigh. Upon it there are also several 
pieces of gold and silver filagree work, similar to those around 
the central crystal of the Cross of Cong It is to be hoped 
that accurate illustrations of this relique, so interesting for its 
artistic details, will ere long be published. Probably this shrine 
remained in the hands of the Berminghams, who had large 
possessions all round Cong. Its modern history is this : — About 
fifty years ago a man named Keilly, said to be a native of Sligo, 
made a living by going about this part of the country with it 
" performing cures upon man and beast." Ladies and ewes are 
said to have held it in especial repute, and far and near the 
population and the flocks u were the better of the blessed tooth." 
One day the old Abbot met the custodian of the shrine, and 
asked him to show him the Fiachah " Whose is this?" said the 
priest, when he had it in his possession. " It belonged," said 

st. Patrick's tooth. 191 

Reilly, "to the canons of Cong." "Then," said Father Pren- 
dergast, " I am the last of the Augustinian canons of that 
monastery, and I'll keep it ;" and so, to the amazement of the 
owner, he rode off with it. He afterwards lent it to Mrs. Blake, 
who preserved it at Blake Hill, near Cong, whence it was 
removed to Menlough, upon the occasion of the serious illness 
of one of the family, who afterwards presented it to Dr. Stokes, 
by whom it was deposited in the Museum of the Royal Irish 
Academy, where it remained until the present year. Accord- 
ing to a tradition in the parish, this shrine came from the 
county of Sligo, where there are still some recollections of 
St. Patrick's tooth. 

The origin of this shrine is as follows : — In later life St. Pa- 
trick began to lose his teeth ; and some of these were pre- 
served by his friends and disciples, and gave names to churches 
commemorative of the circumstance, as in that of Kilfeacle, 
or "the church of the tooth," near the town of Tipperary, &c. 
It is stated that, in the Irish Apostle's visitation of northern 
Connaught, he proceeded along the coasts of Sligo and Mayo, 
and, crossing the river Moy at Bartragh, he raised a cross 
there, and afterwards erected the church of Cassel-Irra, in 
Hy-Fiachrach — probably in the present parish of Killaspug- 
brone. And while there sojourning, bishops Bronius and Mac- 
rinee came to him, " and he wrote out the alphabet for them ; 
and he gave a tooth from his mouth to Bishop Bronius, because 
he was dear to Patrick. There also the holy man laid the foun- 


dation of the church of Cassel-Irra, in the court of which is the 
stone upon which fell the tooth."* 

The large processional cross, now preserved in the Museum 
of the Royal Irish Academy, and known as "The Cross of 
Cong," is undoubtedly one of the finest specimens of metal work, 
enamel, niello, and jewellery of its age in the western world. 
It stands 30 inches high, and the breadth of the arms is 19. 
The illustration on the next page affords so faithful a repre- 
sentation of it, that it is unnecessary, especially in a work of 
this nature, to enter into a minute description of its artistic 
details. It consists of an oaken cross, covered with plates of 
bronze and silver, washed in many places with a thick layer of 
gold, and having interspersed golden filagree work of most mi- 
nute character around its front centre. All the front and back 
plates are elaborately carved with that intertwined pattern, or 
strap work, with grotesque animals, which is specially characte- 
ristic of Irish ornamentation on stone, metal, vellum, and vitre- 
ous composition, and which is seen on so many of our great mo- 
numental crosses, and is well represented in the Moytura Cross, 
figured at page 178. The outer corners of each compartment 
were originally studded with precious stones, glass, or figured 

* See the Tripartite Life of St. Patrick, Trias- Thaumatiirga, p. 142, 
&c. ; see also the Annotations of Tirechan, in the Book of Armagh ; and 
O' Donovan's Notes to the Annals of the Four Masters, under a. d. 511, in 
which year " Saint Bronn, bishop of Cuil-Irra, in Connaught, died." See 
also the "Genealogies and Tribes, &c, of Hy-Fiachrach, v published by the 
Irish Archaeological Society. 



enamel paste, in white and dark blue colours. Supported 
upon a raised boss, decorated with niello in the centre, there is 
a large polished crystal, under which was placed originally the 

relique sent from Rome to 
in 1123, and thus stated 
len under that year: — "A 
into Ireland, and was en- 
Turlough O'Conor." And, 
year 1136, we 
Roderick ^ 
and Nuada O'Concennan 
lough O'Conor ; although 
the Cohorbs of St. Jarlath, 
the Bachall JBuee, or "the 
name, as Dr. Petrie, in his 
subject,* has shown, this 
called from its golden ap- 
sides there are a series of 
tions, both in the Irish 
punched into the silver 


King Turlough O'Conor, 
in The Annals of Innisfal- 
bit of the true cross came 
shrined at Roscommon by 
again, in the Book of 
under the 
read, that 
were arrested by Tur- 
under the protection of 
and of O'Duffy and of 
yellow staff," by which 
learned article upon the 
shrine w r as popularly 
pearance. Around its 
Latin and Irish inscrip- 
character ; the letters are 
plate, apparently by dyes 

or types, and so deeply that the metal plates beneath are in- 
dented with almost equal sharpness ; and this enables us to 

* See Proceedings of the Royal Irish Academy, vol. iv., p. 572 ; — also 
Dr. O'Donovan's dissertation on this inscription in the Journal of the Kil- 
kenny Archasological Society, vol. i., new series, p. 37; see also his Irish 


read uninterruptedly even where the external plate has been 
injured. The foot of the cross springs from a highly decorated 
dog's head, which rises out of a globe, the ornamentation of 
which, in detail, is a marvel of the workmanship of its own or 
any other period. Beneath that ball is a decorated socket, into 
which was inserted the staff or pole with which the cross was 
carried. The inscription affords, unerringly, the history of this 
magnificent relique, the time and purpose for which it was 
made, and recounts the names of those in any way concerned 
in its formation. The following is a fac simile engraving, taken 
from a rubbing, of the Latin inscription, which is in duplicate 
on both sides of the lower portion of the edges : — 

p <tou rco nt> rcor o r bi r> 

Or, in modern characters — Hac cruce cvilv tegitur qua pasus 
\_passus] conditor orbis. " In this cross is preserved [or co- 
vered] the cross on which the Founder of the world suffered." 

Some of the Irish inscriptions are slightly defective, but 
sufficient remains to furnish us with the following informa- 
tion : — " A prayer for Mureduch U Dubthaig, the Senior of 
Erin"— the notice of whose death at Cong, in 1150, is given at 
page 176. 

" A prayer for Therrdel U Chofio [Turlough O'Conor] — for 
the King of Erin ; for whom this grcssa [or shrine] was made." 

Another portion of this inscription refers to the ecclesiastic 


whose death is recorded at page 177: — " A prayer for Dom- 
null Mac Flannacan U Dubdaig [O'Duffy], bishop of Con- 
nacht and Coharb, of [Saints] Chomman and Chiaran, under 
whose superintendence the shrine was made" — which also lends 
support to the assertion already made that the work was com- 
pleted at Ross-Common, where O'DufTy was Abbot of the ce- 
brated monastery of St. Comman, as well as that of St. Keerin 
at Clonmacnois. 

"The fourth, and last compartment," says Dr. Petrie, "of 
these inscriptions, is not the least valuable, though it only pre- 
serves the name of a person of inferior station — that of the arti- 
ficer who made the shrine, as it proyes incontestibly what 
without it might, and probably would have been deemed doubt- 
ful ; namely, that the shrine was of native workmanship." 

" A prayer for Maelisu Mac Bratdan O'Echan, who made 
this shrine." This O'h-Echain was comharba of St. Finnen, of 
Cloncraff, in the county of Roscommon. 

Probably the cross was brought to Cong Abbey by the 
O'Duffys ; but as to what became of it for five centuries we 
have no historic account. There is a tradition in the parish 
that it was kept in an iron box, with other reliques, about a 
hundred years ago. The author remembers it during his boyish 
days, in the possession of Abbot Prendergast, who kept it with 
the other reliques already mentioned, in a three-cornered cup- 
board in his little sitting room at Abbotstown. — See page 174. 
It used, however, be placed upon the altar of Cong chapel at 
the festivals of Christinas and Easter. After Prendergast's 



death it was removed to Cong, at which time the central crys- 
tal had been removed, and was usually carried by a lady in her 
pocket. If still in existence, it is not known where the relique 
for which this cross was made is at present. It must have been 
a very small fragment, such as can at present be obtained in the 
Vatican.* The cross was purchased by the late Professor 
M'Cullagh, and presented, in 1839, to the Royal Irish Aca- 
demy, where it served to form the nucleus of that great national 
collection of secular and ecclesiastical antiquities, that for its 
age and the scanty means at the disposal of those who have 
created it, is undoubtedly the finest national collection in 

The fourth and last relique connected with this locality was 
the Black Bell of St. Patrick, which the author procured many 
years ago for the Academy, and of which the accompanying 
is an illustration. It had long been in the possession of the 
Gerarty family, near Ballinrobe, who brought it every year to 
the " pattern" held on the top of the Eeek or Croagh Patrick, 

* Father Prendergast, although a good scholar and worthy man, was, like 
most of his brethren at the time, utterly ignorant, and totally careless about, 
the historic memorials of the country. Of the valuable collection of Irish 
MSS. transmitted to him with the cross and other i/a-valuables, it is said that 
one day, when he left home, a tailor, who was working in his house, laid 
hands on the vellum books, and cut several into strips for " measures." Need 
we wonder at much of this Vandalism still existing, when there is no chair of 
ecclesiology or archeology at Mavnooth, and the chief Protestant schools 
of Ireland do not teach Irish History ? 

f See Proceedings of the Royal Irish Academy, vol. i., p. 326. 



li I mam i 

on " Garland Sunday," and where, in the little oratory there, 
the pious pilgrim was allowed to kiss it for a penny ; and, if 
he had been affected by " rheumatism pains," he might put it 
three times round his body for two pence. But times got bad, 
the pattern thinned, and the Mdor or keeper of the Clog-duhh 
sold it, to help to pay his passage to America. Certainly, if 
wear and tear is a sign of age, this 
antique should claim our highest 
veneration. It is 11 inches high, 
and 6 wide, and is formed, like 
most ancient of our- Irish bells, of 
iron intermixed with other metals. 
It formerly belonged to the parish 
of Killower, near Headford, where, 
in one of the ancient descriptions 
of the hereditary property of the 
O'Flahertys and their dependants, 
it is said that "Mac Beolan, of 
Killower, is the keeper of the black 
bell of St. Patrick." It was be- 
lieved in the locality that this bell w T as a present from an angel 
to the saint, and was originally of pure silver, but that it was 
rendered black and corroded, as at present seen, u by its con- 
tact with the demons on Croaghpatrick, wdien the Apostle of 
Ireland was expelling them thence." See OTlaherty's "West 
Connaught," page 370. 



Cong and its environs still claim our attention. The great 
monumental cairns and stone circles of upwards of two thousand 
years ago that abound in this neighbourhood seem to have im- 
pressed the people — as they appear to have done in the 
Aran Isles — with a special desire to honour the memory of the 
dead ; and so on all sides we meet with wayside monuments, 
crosses, pillar-stones, and tumuli erected by those who com- 
posed the passing funerals, as they rested at any of these spots 
on their way to the hallowed precincts of St. Mary's Abbey. 
And afterwards each relative of the deceased, or the passing 
friend, or the ' : good Christian" put up a stone, or cast a pebble 

upon one of the 
little heaps, se- 
veral of which 
can even still be 
identified as be- 
longing to par- 
ticular families. 
Upon the eastern 
road there is the 
* Cresseens, a col- 
lection of small 
wooden crosses 
placed on a wall 
under an ash tree. And on the west, as we pass into the 
county Galway^ over Togher-na-heitJie, by Poll-Tuathfill, and 

<..•«- ***£ 



Poll-Lieben, and by Poll-achuaiieal, and proceeding westwards 
towards Cregaree, or " Royal Rock," the residence of the Vener- 
able Michael Waldron, the worthy Roman Catholic Dean of this 
diocese, we pass a great collection of these monuments, some 
of the principal of which, from Mr. and Mrs. S. C. Hall's very 
beautiful work on Ireland, are figured on the opposite page. 

Along this road we pass several pools, where the waters 
of Lough Mask appear in their transit to Cong and Lough 
Corrib ; and among the limestone rocks that stretch across the 

isthmus stands the tall tower of Aughalard Castle, with its ad- 
joining group of ruins as shown in the accompanying illustra- 
tion. It is exceedingly well built, and presents several details 
of considerable beauty and great architectural interest, espe- 


cially in the loop-holes at the angles, and in the top mouldings 
of its light, graceful windows. 

Among the limestone rocks to the north-west of this castle 
may be seen two of the caves, for which Cong is celebrated ; 
both are artificial, and one of them can at present be entered. 

There are three descriptions of caves in this locality — natural, 
artificial, and mixed. The first is magnificently represented by 
the oreat chasm in the limestone rock, about a mile to the west 
of Cong, and to the south-west of Aughalard; and which, from 
the number of pigeons and woodquests that used in former 
times to flock into it, is popularly known as the Pigeon hole, 
and in Irish, Poll nag-columb, a locality rendered memorable by 
Lady Morgan ; and the legends of which have been so graphi- 
cally described by Samuel Lover, and where in boyhood we 
tried to purloin from old Babby, the priestess of the place, "the 
blessed trout," especially the one with the mark of the gridiron 
on his side 

Call at Mrs. Burke's, tourist, and tell her you want to see 
the Pigeon hole ; leave your car at the stile of one of the green 
fields that mottle the great limestone crop all round, and walk 
down a few hundred yards to the east. Hark ! — listen ! — the 
ground is hollow ; there are sounds issuing from beneath your 
feet. Draw nearer ; stand opposite the little clump of dwarf 
oak, hazel, and holly, through which these subterranean noises 
rise to light and air. Look down the flight of steps up which 
that graceful girl is rising, with a pitcher of water on her head; 



descend by a flight of steps into the bowels of the earth, be- 
tween huge masses of lichen-covered rock, draped with tendrils 
of ivy, 50 or 60 feet long, depending from the top, and every 
chink and crevice, of which is festooned with ferns and mosses 
of the greenest hue. Look up ; the light of day is obscured by 
the overhanging branches, and at your feet gushes a rapid trans- 
lucent river, at which women are beetling clothes, or filling 
their water vessels. Fill your eyes with the scene — try and 
penetrate the chilling gloom that broods over the great chasm 
that spans the mighty rocks that have fallen on your right. 
Lo ! presently on the top of one of these immense blocks stands 
for a moment a weird female figure, bearing a lighted flambeau, 
the genius loci — the Meg Merrilies of the scene. Away she 
flits— darkness again, save the reflection of the light on the 
stalactitic roof above ; then, emerging from an unobserved pas- 
sage, she stands on another and more distant crag, with her 
long white locks, and pale aged face, personifying the banshee 
of the ancient Firbolgs. She hurls stones into the deep pools 
beneath, and utters a loud wail, that reverberates through the 
cavern, till the repeated echoes fade in the distance, and we 
watch the lurid light of the expiring glossogs she has thrown 
on the waters, as they float on through these subterranean 
caverns to the lake, or to rise in the great mill pond of Cong. 
"That's the Pigeonhole, yer Honour." 

In the grounds of Strandhill there are two caves somewhat 
similar, "The Ladies Buttery" and the " Horse Discovery;" 


the latter so called because it was discovered by a horse and 
plough having fallen into it, owing to a portion of the roof 
having suddenly given way, many years ago. They both ad- 
join the road leading from the steamer to the village — see page 
159 — and through botli the waters of Lough Mask pass into 
Louo-h Corrib. Still more to the north-east there is " Webb's 
Hole," and in the townland of Cooslughoga, adjoining the roads 
leading to Cross and The Neale, a miniature pigeon hole, called 
Poll-na-dorragh, or "the dropping-hole, with steps leading 
down to it ; and several other natural caverns, through which 
the waters £>f the upper lake percolate to that of a lower level. 

All these the guides will show those interested in such mat- 
ters ; and also relate the atrocities of Captain Webb, and the 
marauding exploits of " Macnamara the robber," and the 
prowess of his bay mare ; and also point out the hiding place 
of " Kelly the outlaw ;" — most of the legends concerning all 
which have been graphically related by that most entertaining 
of all Irish tour writers, Caesar Otway. 

The artificial caves abound all over the plain of Moytura, 
from Knockma to Benlevi. Probably they were all originally 
within, or surrounded by, forts or cahers, to which they served 
as places of protection and security for women and children, 
and the wounded or defenceless ; or to stow away valuables in 
case of attack. They may also have been used as sleeping 
apartments, and perhaps as granaries and storehouses, although 
at the time they were built the chief food of the Irish was ani- 

Artificial caves. 203 

mal. The following general description will apply to most of 
them, and the details and illustrative plans and sketches of a 
few particular ones will enable the reader to understand the 
manner of their construction, and the tourist to identify those 
he may desire to inspect by candle light : — 

By fancying a trench sunk in the ground, 10 or 12 feet 
deep, and from 12 to 14 wide, and about 30 or 40 feet long, 
either in a straight line, or turning at an angle about midway, 
probably to avoid an obstruction — the sides lined with walls 
2 feet thick, of moderate sized stones, put firmly together 
without cement, and not in courses ; and the roof formed of 
enormous flags, many of them 8 and 9 feet long, 4 or 5 wide, or 
upwards, of a foot thick, laid on top — we have a good general 
idea of a Mayo Firbolg, or Tuatha de Danann cave, of probably 
two thousand years old. Towards what must be considered 
the entrance end the cave narrows, and the floor rises ; but the 
general level of the roof is preserved, and the upper side of 
the flags of the roofing is now about 2 feet under the sod. At 
the distant end the cave widens often into a large oval chamber, 
and there is in some caves a small aperture, possibly for air and 
light, or communicating with those above, or to let out smoke. 
They were all entered by square apertures in the roof, as when- 
ever the cave is perfect the ends are built up. This trap door 
may have been covered in case of emergency with a flaw. 

The Moytura caves present one remarkable peculiaritv : 
they are nearly all divided into two chambers by a contrivance 


evidently intended, not merely for security, but concealment, as 
follows: — A few years ago the author discovered a cave at 
Kildun, "the dark wood," adjoining the road leading from Cross 
to The Neale, sunk in the centre of the remains of a large caher 
to the north-east of the "Plain of the Hurlers," and of which 
the two following diagrams, drawn to a scale of 16 feet to the 
inch, present the elevation and ground plan. Its direction is 
from south-west to north-east ; but, from the great variety in the 
line of these souterrains, it is manifest their constructors paid no 
regard to the points of the compass. Descending through an 
aperture at the low, narrow, southern end, which is now only 
3 feet high, we pass into a chamber 22 feet long, but widening 
and deepening towards the northern extremity. It is 6 feet 
wide, and 4 feet 9 inches high ; and in the lower part of the 
end wall there is a horizontal passage, about 3 feet square and 
6 long, at the end of which a perpendicular shaft or chimney, 
18 inches by 30, rises ; getting through which, we land on a 
platform of masonry, 3 feet 4 inches high ; beyond which is a 
another larger chamber, 24 feet long, and averaging 6 feet 
wide, and 7 high — roofed over, like the southern portion, with 
immense flags that span the top. In the left corner is a small 
square recess, like a cupboard ; and overhead a small aperture, 
through which light and air were admitted. This end of the 
cave approaches the outer circle of the fort, with the wall of 
which it may have communicated. 

The upper diagram shows the section, and the lower the 



ground plan of this great cave, which is altogether 54 feet in 
length. A marks the first hall with its descending entrance ; 
B, the low, narrow, connecting passage ; C, the perpendicular 
shaft ; D, the ledge at the southern end of E, the second, or 
great hall, at the extremity of which is the recess and venti- 
lating aperture. 

While, however, in modern architecture the general de- 
sign of a dwelling, church, or fortress, is the same, the details 
often differ widely ; so it was in cave building, for we find a 
great uniformity of purpose in all. In the townland of " Cave," 
at the south-west foot of Knockma, one of these straight subter- 
ranean habitations may be seen, and from thence to the eastern 
rise of Benlevi numbers of the same class of underground struc- 
tures are met with ; and as w T e approach the battle-field they 
abound in every townland ; and, if we refer to the Ordnance 
Maps, we see the great number of localities in which the word 
cave is marked. The cave at Attyricard, mentioned at page 
155, is of this class, as is also that in the great enclosure of 



Caher-Paetar, or "pewter fort," at Bally magibby on, although 
that extensive passage took a somewhat curved direction ; and 
there can be no doubt that the remains of caves are still to 
be found on the sites of all the great cahers in this locality. 
That at Lackaflnna was only closed within the last twenty 

Another form is the Angular or Crooked Cave, of which 
that at Lisheenard, in Ashford, 
described at page 184, is an ex- j 

ample ; but one of the most curious of this 
class is that at Cooslughoga or Cusloughe, '* the 
rat's foot," which is placed within the circle 
of an ancient fort, near Calliaghdoo, about mid- 
way between the roads leading to Cross and 
Ballinrobe. Scrambling down through the nar- 
row dilapidated north-western entrance we get 
into a chamber, marked A on the following 
ground plan, 21 feet long, 7 high, and 6 feet 3 
inches wide, and running nearly east and west. 
The roofing flags are of immense size, and 
supported on corbels that jut inwards for about 
9 inches. At the extremity of this hall the walls narrow, and a 
small door appears, as shown in the left-hand cut at top of the 
illustration given on the opposite page. Creeping through 
this very small doorway, we get into the second or larger 
apartment, marked B, which is 24 feet long, and differs from 



that of most other caves in having the western side wall com- 
posed of large upright flagstones, not unlike those that sup- 
port the roof of the passage into New Grange ; and, like those 
of that remarkable structure, some of these are indented with 
artificial depressions along their sides and edges, as shown 
in the lower compartment of the following illustration. We 

have not, however, as yet found on any of the Moytura caves 
those peculiar carvings, spires, lozenges, and volutes, such as 


characterize the caves of Meath. Either such were not known 
at the period of the construction of the Mayo caves ; or, what 
is more likely, they were only used in sepulchral caverns, 
and probably expressed ideas connected with the life of 
the deceased, or the artist's ideas of futurity. 

This second chamber turns somewhat to the north, and is 
curved round its extreme angde, in the southern side of which 
we meet the high doorway shown by the second top figure 
in the foregoing illustration. From that, a narrow passage 
leads through a very small aperture at its top, over a barrier 
similar to that in the cave of Kildun, into a third, or northern, 
chamber, 22 feet long, marked G upon the diagram.* 

Not far to the north-east of this place, and upon the boun- 
dary of the Plain of the Hurlers, to be described presently, 
is CaherdufT, " the black fort," of which there are still some 
remains of the outer wall at the mearins: of the townland, to 
which it gives name. Within this enclosure there is a very 
extensive curved cave, in good preservation, and remarkable 
for having still perfect the oblong doorway in the roof, by 
which access was gained to the interior. Having passed for 
20 feet in a south-eastern direction, a long narrow passage 

* All the caves in this locality were carefully measured, and ground 
plans and sections of them made for the author, by Mr. James M'Donagh, 
an intelligent surveyor of the neighbourhood; but the two foregoing dia- 
grams are considered sufficient for explanation. The visitor should sup- 
ply himself with candles before commencing the investigation of these 
caves, as the interiors of most of them are in utter darkness. 


leads at an acute angle into a chamber 24 feet long, and 
widening towards its northern extremity. 

These details of a few out of the many caves in this lo- 
cality, and in the neighbouring townland of Creevagh, that 
may be visited by the antiquarian tourist, will serve to give a 
general idea of their construction. Muillean-a- Leprochaun, or 
"the fairies' mill," not far from hence— where in former times 
the people left their casheens of corn at nightfall, and found 
them full of meal in the morning — is worthy of inspection as 
a natural cave. Although the grinding stones are still heard, 
no meal has been ground there since an old woman complained 
that she had been defrauded by the little miller. 

"Kelly's Cave," at Learg-a-Neal, "the path to the Neale," 
to the left of the road leading from Cong to Nymphsfield, 
affords a good example of the mixed variety already referred 
to, in which the natural and artificial were combined ; for, 
while it is evidently a huge cleft formed by nature in the 
rock, portions of the wall in front and on the sides are un- 
doubtedly artificial. But the best instance of this description 
of cave will be found in the great cavern to the west of 
the hill of Carn, near Lough Mask, where the entrance and 
a long passage, evidently artificial, and roofed over with im- 
mense flags, leads into a very large natural cave, from the 
roof of which depend numerous stalactites. As most of the 
ostensible overground monuments around Cong are identified 
with the great battle of Moytura, their description is reserved 
for the next chapter. 




BEFORE entering upon the topography of the locality, or de- 
scribing the battle-field of Moytura, a short epitome of the 
early history and colonization of Ireland may not be out of 
place. The computed period of man's residence on our globe 
has undergone much modification of late years ; but, with re- 
spect to Irish chronology, at least we believe it will be found 
to approach the truth as near as that of most other countries ; 
and the more we investigate it, and endeavour to synchronize it 
with that of other lands, the less reason we shall have to find 
fault with the accounts of our native annalists. 

The author has elsewhere stated his belief that man first set 
foot on Erin in a very rude state, as a nomad hunter and fisher, 


depending for his food on the chase, or feeding on the unculti- 
vated fruits of the earth, or the produce of the waters ; clad 
in skins, and having no knowledge of metal, but forming his 
simple weapons, tools, and ornaments out of flint, stone, and 
shell, &c* These early or aboriginal people were termed, in 
later times, Fomorians. A colony under three leaders — Bith, 
Ladra, and Fintan — and several females (of whom Ceasair, or 
Cesarea, was the chief), who were supposed to have come 
across the Spanish Main, arrived on the south coast, and have 
left their names in different localities in ancient Erin, and 
among the rest in Knockma, the great hill of the plain, which 
forms so conspicuous an object in the district ; and in the great 
monumental cairn surmounting which, called Carn-Keasrach, 
it is said, in The " Ogygia," that Cesarea was interred. 

Another large colony, believed to have been of immediate 
Oriental origin, under a leader named Parthalon, followed, and, 
also landing on the south coast, defeated the native Fomorians, 
but were themselves cut off by a plague, or Thaum, and were 
interred at Tallaght (Tamh-Leacht, or the "plague stone"), near 
Dublin, where their urns have been frequently exhumed ; but 
Parthalon himself, it is thought, was buried in the cromleach at 
Ben Edair, now Howth.f The leaders of that colony also left 

* See the Author's Catalogue of the Antiquities in the Museum of the 
Royal Irish Academy, part i. 

f See Mr. Ferguson's poem on Howth See also the Author's Table 

of Pestilences in the "Irish Census Report for 1851," vol. v., page 45. 

P 2 


their names to various places in Erin ; and by these people it 
is said that several of the plains were cleared of wood, and cul- 
tivated. Our histories state, that in these early times many 
lakes were formed, and several rivers broke out — relations that 
some years ago would have been regarded as fabulous by many, 
and miraculous by some ; but now that cosmical phenomena are 
better understood, such accounts will rather afford subjects for 
calm scientific investigation than for ridicule. After the days 
of Parthalon another immigration into Erin occurred, under 
the leadership of Nemedh (from whom the original name of 
this very plain, to the east of Cong, was derived), with his 
sons Starn ; Hiarbanel the prophet from whom the Dananns 
descended ; Fergus Bedside, the father of Britannus, who gave 
his name to " the great island" adjoining ; and Ainnin, from 
wdiom Logh Ainnin, now Lough Ennell, in Westmeath, is 
called. They also were clearers of woods, and promoters of 
civilization ; and their chief settlement was in Dalaradia, in the 
northern portion of the island, where they contended for the 
mastery with the old Fomorians, and destroyed their great 
tower of Conang, at Tor-innis, now Tory Island. As in many 
modern instances, the plague combined with the sword to thin 
their army ; and, after an occupation of a portion of the island, 
Nemedh himself, and three thousand of his followers, died of a 
Thaum at Ard-Neimedh, now Barrymore Island, on the Cork 
coast; and then, More the son of Dala, rallying the Fomorians, 


attacked the remaining Nemedhs, and caused them to emigrate 
to Britain. 

We now approach more probable, if not more certain his- 
tory. A Belgic colony, called Firbolgs, under five chieftains" — 
Slainghe, Kadruic, Seangan, Genan, and Gan, passing over 
from Britain, arrived in great numbers, conquered the native 
Irish of the day, established a kingly form of government, and 
divided the country into a pentarchy. They also left their 
names in several places, and erected those stupendous bar- 
baric monuments which may be seen in the Aran Isles to this 

During all this long period the Fomorians, although con- 
quered, were neither subdued nor extirpated ; they frequently 
espoused different sides with the several invaders (just as the 
native Irish did after 1172), and by intermarriage became 
allied to them. Eventually their political power was crushed, 
and their chiefs retired to Tory Island, on the Donegal coast, 
where they earned the name of " pirates." They come on the 
scene at a later period. 

The fifth colony, sprung, it is said, from the race of Nemedh, 
who had emigrated northward, possibly driving the Lapps of 
Middle Europe before them, prior even to the date of " the 
March of Odin," and perhaps coeval with the time of the oyster- 
eaters of Jutland, returned to Ireland as Tuatha de Danann, 
under the leadership of their king, Nuad, and, advancing 
into the interior as far as the south margin of Leitrim, de- 


manded a portion of the island from the Belgce, with whom 
they had, it is said, a common language. Prior to that date, 
whatever it may have been, the entries in our annals, trans- 
mitted by the Bards, and probably recited at the feasts of chief- 
tains, or at national assemblies — as very likely the poems of 
Homer were sung, before being committed to writing — are 
meagre, and consist chiefly of records of pestilences and 
cosmical phenomena, which latter, however, bear the test of 
scientific investigation. 

Henceforward, Irish history becomes more detailed, if not 
more certain. Thus we read of colony after colony coming 
down from the cold regions of the north, passing on from 
the warm sunny plains of the south, and crowding in even 
from the distant east ; seeking, as the destiny and the impulse 
of man ever is the land of the setting sun — the most distant 
point of habitable earth to which he can reach, or whereon he 
can by any possibility exist ; but above all because, from its 
geographical position, its climate, and its soil, Green Erin 
afforded these pastoral people then, as it does now, a greater 
amount of food for herbivorous animals than any equal ex- 
tent of land in North-western Europe. 

The Firbolgs were a small, swarthy, dark race, as w T ere pro- 
bably their Fomorian precursors. The Teutons or Scandi- 
navian Dananns, on the other hand, were a large, fair, light 
or sandy-haired people, of superior knowledge and intelligence, 
which obtained for them the attributes of magical skill and 


necromancy ; they were also musical and poetic. Both races 
were Druidic in religion ; and, so far as can be gleaned from 
remote history, both possessed a knowledge of metal, and were 
armed accordingly. 

The Belgas having refused to divide the country with the 
invaders, the Dananns proceeded westward, and occupied the 
great plain of Nemedh, or Magh-Ith, which stretches for about 
12 miles from the hill of Knockma, in the county of Galway, 
through the fertile barony of Kilmain, in Mayo, to Slieve 
Belgadain, now called Benlevi, a short distance from the vil- 
lage of Cong, in the barony of Boss, and county of Galway, 
and forms the eastern barrier to the western highlands. Both 
eminences, as already stated, may be discovered at a great 
distance all round. Lough Comb forms the southern, and the 
shores of Lough Mask the immediate western, margin of this 
plain, which, extending for four or five miles in breadth, is 
bounded on the north-west by the Kiver Kobe. How long the 
Scandinavians occupied that situation, or whether they or the 
Belgic people formed those numerous forts, raths, cairns, and 
cahers, that cluster on its western extremity in groups resem- 
bling cities, or, whether such were constructed prior to the 
battle, must remain matters of speculation. Certain it is, that 
in remote ages an immense population must have occupied 
that plain ; for, notwithstanding the vast lapse of time, the 
progress of cultivation, and the ruthless hand of the despoiler, 
almost every field bears evidence of its existence. 


Eochy, son of Ere, King of Erin, advanced to the hill 
of Knockma with all his forces from Tara, in Meath, then 
the seat of government, to attack the Tuatha de Dananns, 
whose leader, Nuad, took up his position on Benlevi, with 
his warriors, sages, Druids, bards, poets, and physicians, &c, 
whose names have been all recounted, and their prowess 
sung in story, so that throughout the whole thread of Irish 
history they remain recorded. By this means the wily Da- 
nanns had the fastnesses of Joyce Country and Connamara 
to fall back on in case of defeat, as it is said they destroyed 
their fleet on landing. 

Knock-Magha, or Knockma, the great "hill of the plain," 
so conspicuous in the landscape, is about five miles to the 
west of Tuam, in the barony of Clare and county of Galway ; 
its northern slope is occupied by the woods and cultivated 
grounds of Castlehacket, the seat of Denis Kirwan, Esq. ; and 
on its summit stands the great cairn within which tradition and 
ancient history say Ceasair, one of the earliest colonists of Ire- 
land, was interred.* (See page 211). Perhaps we do not err in 
assigning to this ancient burial place a date anterior to that of 

* During the last fifty years an eccentric person residing in the loca- 
lity made a castellated stone structure to the west of this great cairn ; 
but it in nowise either interferes with or invalidates the old sepulchral mo- 
nument referred to in the text; and it is not clear that, despite its Brum- 
magem architecture, there is not beneath it a second tumulus, consecrated 
to the remains of some early Irish notability. 


any other identified historical locality in Ireland ; and hence tra- 
dition, as well as popular superstition, has thrown over it the 
investiture of fairy legend beyond all other places in the coun- 
try ; for here Finvarra, the Oberon of Irish sylvan mythology, 
holds his court. From this point may be obtained one of the 
grandest panoramic views in Ireland ; — the great plain stretch- 
ing beneath and round Knockroe ; the beautiful abbey of 
Knockmoy ; the towers and city of the Ford of the Kings ; 
the Tuam of St. Jarlath ; the Bound Tower of St. Bennan ; the 
ruined keeps of the De Burgos; the ships riding in the Bay 
of Galway ; the Slievebloom and Clare mountains ; the blue 
island-studded waters of Lough Corrib ; and, in the far west- 
ern back ground, the Connamara Alps, with their clear-cut 
edges, and their sides momentarily varying in tints from the 
marvellous atmospheric effects of that region stretching round 
by the Partry range to the lofty peak of Croaghpatrick ; and 
in the extreme north-western distance the bulky form of Nefln, 
and even some of the Achill mountains skirting Clew Bay. 

King Eochy, with his Firbolg host, descended into the plain 
of Moytura, and, passing westwards, was met by the heralds and 
ambassadors of Nuad, on that portion of it subsequently called 
Conmaicne Cuile Toladh, extending from the present village of 
Cross to the neck of land that divides Loughs Mask and Corrib. 
They then, as was not uncommon with nations in kindred states 
of civilization, agreed upon a trial of skill and manly prowess ; 
and twenty-seven youths from each army engaged in a game of 


hurling, in a valley denominated in the tale "The Plain of the 
Hurlers." Now, presuming that we are correct in our interpre- 
tation of the MS. account of the engagement and the topo- 
graphy, this extends in an eastern direction for three quarters 
of a mile from the bridge of Garracloon to the rise of Cath- 
na-Bunnin, south-east of Nymphsfield, and is bordered on the 
north by CaherdufF, and on the south by the rise of Knock, 
on both of which we find several monuments of the battle that 
subsequently ensued. In fact, it is the only hurling ground in 
the district ; it was used as such within the memory of the 
present generation ; and it is said the fairies still have their 
games of " common" there on bright moonlight nights. The 
northern boundary of this smooth valley is the rocky space, 
covered with dwarf hazel, which gives the name of Ceaslean- 
na-Cuillagh, "The castle in the wood," to the old haunted ruin 
shown in the subjoined illustration ; and to the west of which is 
the cave of Caherdubh, described at page 208. This castle — 
so often seen, it is said, " afire" on summer nights, when the 
fairies, after their game of hurling, hold their banquets there — 
is, however, a mortared structure of great strength, and pro- 
bably about five centuries old. 

This warlike pastime ended in the defeat and death of the 
thrice nine youths of the Dananns, over whom was erected the 
great earn or stone monument figured on the next page, and 
which would appear to be that called in the MS. Carn-an- 
chhdthe, or the "monument of the game;" and the valley of 



the hurlers, where they were interred, was then denominated 
Glen-mo- Aillem. There it stands to this day, about 50 feet 
high, and 400 in circumference — an historic memorial as valid 

as that which commemorates the spot on the shore of Attica, 
where the Athenians fell beneath the long spears of the Per- 
sians on the field of Marathon. 

Next day, supposed to be the 11th of June, in the year 
of the world 3303, the battle commenced ; it lasted four days, 
and it is said 100,000 men were engaged in it. Each army 
sank a royal rath or fortress ; that of the Belgaa called Rath Cro- 
phorta, and that of the Dananns, Rath Fearainn ; both are pro- 
bably still remaining, but not capable of identification among 
the many monuments, of which vestiges still exist in this lo- 
cality. Both parties were armed with swords, spears, darts, 
and shields, but no mention is made of either slings or arrows ; 
so it must have been a hand-to-hand fight. They did not, how- 


ever, forget the wounded ; for each sank a " sanative pool" or 
medicated bath in the rear of their lines, in which the wounded 
bathed. That of the Dananns was presided over by Dian- 
cheacht, the Machaon of the Irish Iliad ; and the circumstance 
is commemorated in the name of a district bordering the Shan- 
non, called Lus-magh, " the plain of the herbs," from the fact 
that on it were collected the plants that formed the materia 
medica with which the milk of the bath was endowed with its 
healing virtues. Forward marched the Firbolgean host, headed 
by the Fathach, or Druid poet — a character still remembered 
traditionally by the people as the Faugliac Ruadh, or red 
giant, who raised a pillar-stone against which he rested, and 
sang the exploits of his warriors. The stone has disappeared, 
but the eminence on which he stood is still pointed out with- 
in the demesne of Moytura, on Knock-ard-na-gook, or "the 
knoll on the height of the cuckoo," because, it is said that 
that visitor is usually first heard there in spring. In the his- 
tory of the battle this pillar-stone is called Cairthi Fathaigh, and 
is said to have been the first of the kind erected on this plain. 
On the other hand, we can well imagine the Dananns march- 
ing to battle, incited by the Miriam-like chaunt of Edain, or 
Edena, the poet-prophetess, whose name often occurs in the 
history of the engagement. The Dagda More, afterwards a 
king, and whose monument undoubtedly stands on the banks 
of the Boyne, near Newgrange, performed deeds of surpassing 
valour, until withstood by the hero Kerb, the son of Buan of 


the Firbolgs. Adleo, the son of Allai, another of the Dana- 
nians, was slain by Nearchu, grandson of Semeon, and a pillar- 
stone, called Cairthi Adleo, was erected where he fell — probably 
the Clogh-Fadha- Cwiga, or " long stone of Cong," which not 
long since stood on the old road to the east of that village, 
and a portion of which, 6 feet long, is still in an adjoining 
wall. The only other pillar-stones in the district are, one 
on the east shore of Holly Island, in Lough Corrib, and the 
Clogh-Fadha Need, or "long stone of The Neale," at the junc- 
tion of the roads passing northwards from Cross and Cong, 
where it is said by tradition the king stood at one period of 
the battle. — See page 240. 

The Belgians, although not absolutely victorious, had rather 
the best of the first day's fighing, having driven their enemies 
back to their encampment, which probably extended from the 
site of this pillar of Adloe to the western end of the Plain of 
the Hurlers, along by Nymphsfield to the cross roads lead- 
ing to Lough Mask, and from thence through Creevagh, in 
which still stand the remains of cairns. Each Firbolg hav- 
ing carried with him a stone and the head of a Danann to 
their king, he erected "a great cam" to commemorate the 
event. Taking into consideration the line of the two armies, 
this must be the cairn of Ballymagibbon, as shown in the fol- 
lowing cut, which stands near the road passing from Cong 
to Cross. It is 129 yards in circumference, and about 60 feet 
high ; and its original base may still be traced by a number of 



upright stones. Within it there is a large cave, but it is not 
at present accessible. 

The next morning, before the second day's fight was com- 
menced, the following incident occurred : — King Eochy, unat- 
tended, went down into a certain well to perform his ablutions, 
and while there observed three of the enemy "overhead," about 
to seek his life. A colloquy ensued, but the Dananns would 
give no quarter. He was saved, however, by one of his own 
band, who slew the three, but died immediately from his wounds 
on an adjoining hillock. The Firbolgs, coming up to look after 
their king, there and then interred the hero who so bravely 
defended him ; and, each taking a stone in his hand, erected 
over him a monumental cairn. The well is not named in the 
ancient account of the battle; but the little hill on which the 


conflict took place is called Tulach-an-triur, "The Hill of the 
Three," and the monument erected thereon Carn-in-enflxir, "The 
Carn of the One Man." Such is the simple narrative of the 
transaction sent down to us through bards and wandering poets 
and chieftains' laureates, who perhaps, as already remarked, re- 
cited it at feasts and in public assemblies — as the tales of Troy 
were sung possibly before Homer was born — until the days of 
letters, when the tradition was transmitted to writing, and the 
annalist sped it on to the present time. Is it true ? Can it be 
that a trifling incident of this nature, occurring so far back in 
the night of history, can possibly bear the test of present topo- 
graphical investigation, while many of our classic histories have 
been questioned, and in some instances their statements dis- 
proved ? Yes ; there they both remain to the present day — 
the deep well, now called Mean or Meeneen uisge, in a chasm 
of the limestone rock through which the floods of Lough Mask 
percolate into Lough Corrib — the only drop of water that is to 
be found in the neighbourhood — and so deep under the surface, 
that the king must have looked upwards to see his enemies 
overhead. Immediately adjoining it, on the south-east, stands 
the hillock referred to in the manuscript, and now crowned 
with a circle of standing stones, 176 feet in circumference, in 
the centre of which are the remains of the cairn, shown by the 
illustration on the following page ; and the monument is still 
called Cam Meeneen uisge. 

This well of the Mean-Uisge, the precise derivation of which 
is not known, but which signifies either " the small watery 



plain," or " the celebrated water," answers well the descrip- 
tion afforded by the narrative ; for it is reached by a flight of 

steps like those in the Pigeon Hole and other similar natural 
caves near Cong. At certain seasons, when the upper floods 
accumulate, the water rises almost instantaneously in a jet 
through this aperture, and forms a turlough to the south of it. 
After a careful examination of the locality, with a tran- 
script of the ancient manuscript in his hand, the author, feel- 
ing convinced of the identity of the stone heap standing with- 
in the circle figured above, and by the kind permission of its 
proprietor, Charles Blake, Esq., made an excavation in the 
centre, telling the workmen beforehand that they would assu- 
redly find a chamber in it ; and if it had not been already rifled, 
the remains of the hero who so bravely defended the Firbolg 
king. As much of the top of the heap had been removed for 
building purposes some years ago, we soon came upon a large 
smooth, horizontally placed, gritstone Hag, on raising which 



another, somewhat larger in size, was discovered. The latter 
remains in situ, and covers a small square chamber, 28 inches 
hio-h, and 37 wide, the walls of which are formed of small 

O " 7 

stones. On removing: some of these on the western side, we 
found imbedded in the soft black powdery earth that had fallen 
in through the apertures, and probably mixed with charcoal, the 
urn here figured, and which contained the incinerated remains 
of human bones. It is now in the Museum of the Academy. 
This very beautiful object 
is about h\ inches high, 
and 6 inches wide in the 
mouth, tapering gracefully 
to the bottom, which is 
only 2 inches broad. It is 
also highly decorated all 
round the lip, and has six 
fillets beneath the outer 
edge of the rim ; and, what 
is unique in vessels of this description, four slightly elevated 
knobs, like handles. The lower plain surface beneath the fillets 
and handles is covered with herring-bone ornamentation. The 
surface of the vessel is of a reddish-brown colour, and the in- 
terior of its substance black, showing that it was submitted to 
the process of baking or roasting, either in its original forma- 
tion, or at the time of the pyre, or when the hot embers of the 
human remains were placed within it. 



Here, no doubt, the body of the loyal Firbolg youth was 
burned, and his ashes collected and preserved in this urn. 
Perhaps a more convincing proof of the authenticity of Irish or 
any other ancient history has never been afforded.* 

Immediately over and to the north and west of the site of 
the foregoing incident the ground rises into the slope of To- 
neleane, the "trowel-like elevation;" that of Callagh Dubh, the 
" black woman," probably in reference to the Danann poetess, 
the daughter of Dianceacht, and from which name in all pro- 
bability the present townland of Nymphsfield takes its name ; 
and the little hollow called Cath-na-Bunnen — upon all of which 
the chief battle monuments of the Dananns still remain. 

O'Donovan, when examining the barony of Kilmain, in 1839, 
did not visit any of the monuments, which exist in the hollow 
south-east of Toneleane ; but the translation which he has left 
of the Cath Magh Tuireadth has directed the author to the dis- 
covery of this and several other structures still existing. He 
has also had the advantage of collating, with Mr. O'Looney, 
O'Donovan's translation with O'Curry's transcript of the manu- 
script now in the Catholic University. 

This second day's contest commenced under a new set of 
commanders, among whom " Aengabha of Norway," Ogma, 
Midir, Bodhbh-Dearg, and Dianceacht the Physician, were con- 

* See the author's communications upon the battle-field of Moytura, 
laid before the Royal Irish Academy in 1866, and printed in the Proceed- 
ings, vol. x., pp. 22-24. 


spicuous as Danann leaders ; and Mella, Esc, Ferb, and Fae- 
bhar, the four sons of Slainge Finn, son of King Eochy, led the 
Firbolgs. The battle raged with great fury, and, according to 
the spirited description in the narrative, a Danann chief named 
Nemhid, son of Badhri, was slain by Slainge, and " his grave 
was dug, and his pillar-stone was raised ; which is from that 
day to this called Lia-Nemhidh" If this still exists, it is not 
at present susceptible of identification. 

It would now appear that the battle surged northwards ; 
the lines extending towards the western shores of Lough Mask, 
where Slainge Finn, the king's son, pursuing the two sons of 
Caelchu and their followers, who had fled from the left wing 
of the Danann army to the margin of the lake, killed them 
there, and " seventeen flagstones were stuck in the ground 
in commemoration of their death." 

Here is another most remarkable confirmation of the tale ; 
for by the margin of the lake in the island (or peninsula as 
it is at present in summer time) of Inish-Eogan, now Inish- 
owen, there stands this remarkable monument to this hour, 
within an elevated and entrenched fort, as shown in the fol- 
lowing illustration, with thirteen of these flat "flagstones" still 
occupying the edge of the rath, some of them over 6 feet high, 
by 9 inches wide, and about 4 or 5 inches thick. The site 
commands a glorious prospect of the lake and the Partry range, 
as well as Nephin and Ballycroy, mountains, and ( the deep 
valley through which the waters of Lough na Foohy com- 




municate with Lough Mask. The fort is oval, and measures 
22 paces across ; some of the stones are perforated ; upon the 

west or water side the ditch is remarkably steep, but now 
much overgrown w T ith bushes. See page 259. There was great 
slaughter on both sides during this day's fighting, and the 
Norwegian general was nearly overpowered in a personal con- 
flict by the Red son of Mogharn, one of the Belgae ; but at 
nio-htfall the Firbolgs gave way. They carried home, however, 
into the presence of their king, the heads of the slain Dananns. 
The Firbolgs, says the narrator, " rose out early the next 
morning, and made a beautiful scell [sceall, or testudo] of their 
shields over their heads, and placed their battle spears like 
trees of equal thickness, and thus marched forward in Tur- 
thas [columns or battalions] of battle. The Tnatha de Da- 
nann, seeing the Firbolgs marching in this wise from the east- 
ern head of the plain [probably from the places now known 
by the townland names of Gurtachurra, Ballymagibbon, and 


Knock], observed : — ' How pompously these Tuirthis of battle 
march towards us across the plain !' and hence the plain was 
called Magh Tuireadh, or plain of the Tuireadhs." From this 
circumstance arose the name so often referred to in ancient 
Irish history. 

On this third day of the battle, the Dananns were com- 
manded by the Dagda; for, said he, "I am your Daigh-dia" 
(god of hope, or confidence, deliverer) ; and Sreng, the son 
of Sengan, led the Belgae. Several personal conflicts between 
the most renowned warriors are said to have taken place, the 
details of which, descriptive of the arms and mode of fighting, 
are related in Homeric language — [ n which it is said the hel- 
mets were crushed, the metal-bound shields were battered, the 
long-handled spears were shivered, and the " green-edged 
[bronze] swords were dyed with blood." The Dagda slew 
Kerb, one of the most famous Firbolg heroes, and the Belga? 
were driven back to their camp ; but they were still able to 
carry each a stone and the head of a foe, and also that of 
Kerb, which they buried within their lines, and placed over it 
a cairn called Cam- tin- Kerb, or the " monument of the head 
of Kerb." This name is not now known ; but, considering the 
line of the two armies, we are inclined to think it may be the 
small stone heap a little to the west of the great monument 
at Ballymagibbon, erected after the first day's battle. — See 
page 222. 

The line of the Belgian or Firbolg camp, or more pro- 



bably settlement, can still be traced with wonderful accuracy, 
stretching in a curvature along the lake side to the east 
of Cong, where, commencing with the caher, or fort, which 
lately existed at Lisloughry, " the lake fort," it extends by the 
fort and cave of Lackcifinna, " the white flagstone," over the 
high ground where stands Lisdujf, " the black fort," to Caher 
Gerrode, that commands the whole scene ;* and thence by 
Cuckoo Hill, described at page 220, where the pillar-stone 
of the Fau°;ha stood, and immediately beneath which, to the 
east, is Caher- Speenaun, " the thorny fort," shown by the sub- 

joined illustration, taken from the north-east. The wall of 
this fort, although not built of large stones, is 10 feet thick, 
and 6 feet high ; its circumference is 393 feet. An outer 

* Caher Gerrode, or Garret's Caher, which stands on the hill to the 
north-west of Moytura House, is manifestly a modern name. The author 
has lately erected a tower within it ; but the antiquity of the outer wall 
is undoubted. 


wall encircled this fort originally ; but at present only a few 
yards of it remain, as shown by the woodcut. The inter- 
space between these walls is 48 feet. Tradition says there is 
a cave in the interior of this fort. When the outer walls 
were being removed some years ago, several antiquities 
were discovered, especially querns and iron hatchets.* 

More to the south-east, on the hill of Tongegee, referred 
to at page 157, and which commands a grand panoramic view 
of the lake and mountains, are the remains of Caher-na-gree, 
" the pleasant fort," which, with the cluster of minor erec- 
tions, both military and monumental, around it, must have 
been a city in itself. Still more to the east are the IAsheen, 
or " little earthen fort," and the great enclosure and caves of 
Calier- Phaetre, " pewter fort," immediately below the cairn 
of Ballymagibbon, figured at page 201. Still more to the 
east, there are the forts on Corgorave hill, and others along 
the road to Cross, and so on to the immense heap of Caher- 
Mayo, or the great " stone fort of Mayo," which tradition says 
was intended to have been the capital ; and to the north of 
which, at Attyricard, already referred to, there are several 
similar structures. Then turning northwards, by Kildun and 
CaherduiF, to the village of The Neale, we meet with un- 
doubted evidences of the existence of a numerous population ; 

* A tuath, or narrow iron hatchet, found here is now in the valuable 
collection of the late Dr. Petrie. 


for it must have been the work of thousands to have brought 
together those huge masses of stone, and sunk those caves. 

Within the Tuatha de Danann lines we have several large 
cahers, caves, and forts, extending along the eastern and 
northern slopes of Benlevi, to the tower of Ardnageeha, 
wherever the ground permitted of their erection. But, presum- 
ing that we are correct in the topography of the battlefield, 
the front of the invaders extended from the site of the Long 
Stone at Cong across to Nymphsfield, where we find a cluster 
of most remarkable monuments, to be described presently. 

The battle was fought in the space between these two lines, 
and passing off to the north, turned at The Neale again towards 
the west, and concluded at the shores of Lough Mask. 

On this third day of the engagement the Firbolgs were rein- 
forced by the aged Fintan, and an additional Leinster army. 
Both the kings commanded in person. Nuad, in a fierce en- 
counter with Sreng, one of the Belgian heroes, lost his arm, but 
was rescued by Aengabha, his Norwegian ally, whose exploits 
are most graphically described in the manuscript. Dianceacht, 
his surgeon, dressed the wound, and Credne Cerd, the artificer, 
afterwards made for him a silver hand ; so that from henceforth 
he was known as Nuadhat- Airgead-Lamh, or " Nuad of the 
silver hand ;" and the circumstance has passed down through 
the whole stream of Irish history. A monument was erected 
over the kings hand where the blood dropt from it upon Cro- 
Ghaile, " the enclosure of the foreigners," and which monu- 


ment may, for aught we know, still exist.* It is also stated 
that the Dananns reared up Cairtheda, or pillar-stones, to pro- 
tect their men, and also to prevent their retreat. 

Before proceeding with the narrative, we must here conduct 
our readers to the existing Danann monuments that accumulate 
in the fields opposite the glebe of Nymphsfield, to a portion 
of which the locality tradition has assigned the name of Cath- 
na-Bunnen, "the battle of the butts ;" because it is said that 
here, when the combatants were nearly exhausted, and had 
blunted, broken, or lost their swords and spears, they fought 
with the butts, or handles, as the Faugaballaghs did in the 
Peninsula. But perhaps this term may be only a corruption 
or mispronunciation of Cath-na-Da inn, " the battle of the 
Dananns." There are here five very remarkable stone circles 

* Many years ago the late Rev. Dr. Walsh, father of the present 
Master of the Rolls, presented to the Academy an urn containing the bones 
of a human thumb which had been found in a kistvane, or stone chamber, 
at Kilbride, in the County Wicklow. — See Proceedings, vol. i., p. 296. 
And in the church at Waterloo we can still see the monument comme- 
morative of the Marquis of Anglesea's leg. 

In his note to the foregoing circumstances, as related in the Annals of 
the Four Masters, under a. m. 3303, O'Donovan writes as follows: — "It 
is stated in the Leabhar-Gabhala of the O'Clerys, that Diancecht and 
Credne formed the hand with motion in every finger and joint, and that 
Miach, the son of Diancecht, to excel his father, took off this hand, and 
infused feeling and motion into every joint and vein of it, as if it were a 

natural hand See O'Flaherty's Ogygia, Part iii., c. 10. In Cormac's 

Glossary, the name of Diacccht is explained, ' Deus Salads' — i. bid na h-iee 
■ — 'The God of Curing;.' 



still remaining within the compass of a quarter of a square 
mile, and there arc traces of others. The following examples 
are highly illustrative of these remarkable monuments. That 
figured below consists of nineteen flat flagstones placed in a 
circle, each inclining outwards, perfectly smooth on the outside, 
but grooved and hollowed on their internal faces, which were 
evidently those originally exposed to the action of air or water. 


A considerable portion of this circle has been removed; and 
its interior, which is now planted, is 54 feet in diameter. Some 
of these stones are 5 feet over ground, and are 4 feet wide, 
and 8 or 10 inches thick. 

Is this — and are the other circles adjoining — military, re- 
ligious, commemorative, or monumental? The experience and 
general belief of antiquarians is, that all these large circles arc 
Druidical, and either monumental or religious. Sometimes 


they undoubtedly mark the confines of a cairn or tumulus, 
which latter having been removed centuries ago, the circle 
has remained — as would be the case, had we continued our 
excavations, and cleared away the interior of the circle of the 
" One Man's Cairn," figured and described at page 224. Some 
stone circles of only a few feet or yards in diameter are, no 
doubt, the remains of the upright supports of dome-roofed 
sepulchres ; but the experienced eye is sure to detect such use, 
and it would not have been possible to roof over the spaces 
that are included within the Moytura circles. Of their Drui- 
dical or religious purposes we know nothing, nor are we ever 
likely to know more. Some of them may mark the outer walls 
of cahers, where all the other stones, possibly of smaller size, 
have been removed in the course of centuries ; or they may 
have been originally (in lieu of timber) raised up as defensive 
stockades where, taking the warfare of the time into account, 
their interiors would be places of considerable security. Com- 
pare one of these circles with an ancient wall in Aran, or that 
of the fort on Inishmain, figured and described at page 250. 
Our ancient histories make no mention of these stone circles ; 
legend, tradition, and even popular superstition, are remark- 
ably silent with respect to them ; and we therefore hail with 
thankfulness any inkling which this as yet unpublished tale 
of the Moytura Battle can afford us as to their use. As al- 
ready stated the Tuatha de Dananns, it is said, " fixed pillar- 
stones in the ground to prevent their people fleeing, until 


these stones should take to flight," and at the same time pro- 
tect them from the enemy ; and certainly a circle of this de- 
scription, formed of smooth sloping flags, with the interstices 
filled up so as to form a wall 7 or 8 feet high, within which 
200 men could easily stand, would answer all the purposes of 
an entrenched camp. 

Now, among the most renowned personages of that age 
whose names and exploits have descended to our own time 
was Belor, the great Fomorian giant, who is said to have 
had a third eye in the centre of his forehead, with the basi- 
lisk power of which, when uncovered, he could, even at a 
great distance, kill or petrify his enemies.* There is a vivid 
tradition among the people that such a personage was at the 
Cath-Magh-Tuireadh-Cunga, and that the persons who erected 
these forts and circles, dreading his power over their soldiers, 
painted the figures of warriors on the outer surfaces of these 
flat stones ; so that, as an old man once told me on the spot, 
" when the Fomorian necromancer, standing on the fort of 
Lackafinna about half a mile off, or at Ardnagook, and turn- 
ing his magical eye on them, perceived that he had not 
tumbled any of them — for he used to melt people with his 
eyes, he went away in disgust." The name of this hero is not 
known traditionally in this neighbourhood, and there is no 
mention made of him in the manuscript account of the first 

* Could it be possible that at that period Belor had an optical instru- 
ment by which he might see at a distance? 



battle of Moytura ; but we know, that " Belor of the mighty- 
blows" was killed at the second or northern battle of Moy- 
tura, subsequently fought in the county Sligo. It is with the 
Faugha Ruadh, or great red giant, already referred to, that 
local tradition associates this circumstance. 

At the south-west corner of the same field, opposite the 
glebe of the Rev. E. L. Moore, the present rector of this parish, 
there is another circle, of which the subjoined is a graphic 

representation. It consists of a series of standing stones, and 
is 152 feet in diameter. Within and around this and the ad- 
j oining fields, to the south and east, several perfect circles still 
exist, and the sites of others can still be traced within the 
confines of Cath-na-Bunnen ; so that here was evidently the 
stronghold of one of the contending armies. 


Where the glebe now stands there existed, about forty 
years ago, the great Danann stronghold called C alter- Mac- Turc, 
"the caher of the son of the wild boar," and by some called 
Cahev-more and Caher-Biel, the stones of which were used in 
erecting the parsonage ; and the slope in front of the latter yet 
marks a portion of its site. Half a century ago, before the 
same knowledge existed, or the same interest was felt in the 
preservation of national or historic monuments as at present, 
but little attention was paid to the preservation of such struc- 
tures. Thanks to George Crampton, Esq., son of the late 
Rector of Cong, we have been furnished with a map and de- 
scription of this great caher, which was perhaps one of the 
largest in Ireland, and resembled Dun-Aengus or Dim- Conor, 
and others in Aran. It was circular, and enclosed a space 
of about half an acre. The inner wall was about 7 or 8 feet 
high, and 10 or 12 thick, and sloped from without inwards, 
with an opening or doorway 12 feet wide. In the central space 
was a small circular building, which in modern times was 
called by the people "the gaol," the wall of which was 3 feet 
thick. In removing the caher, several ancient iron weapons, 
and the stones of some querns or hand-mills, were discovered. 

After the Danann king was wounded, Brcas, his grand- 
son, charged the Firbolgs with great fury, but was cut down 
by the hand of Eochy. That, however, Breas, the son of 
Ealathan, was not killed, is manifest from the context of the 
MS., as well as the general tenor of history, for he subse- 


quently reigned during the period that Nuad was disabled 
from his wound. Then the Dagda, Ogma, Allad, and Del- 
way (evidently Scandinavian names), rushed on King Eochy, 
but were repulsed for a while by his four grandsons, the sons 
of Slainge, all of whom, however, fell in the engagement; and 
" the place where they were interred is called Leaca-Mhac- 
Slainge, ' the flags of the sons of Slainge.' " 

On the other side, the four sons of Gann charged down 
the Danann lines, but they also were killed by Gobnen, the 
smith ; Lucry, the carpenter ; Dianceacht, the surgeon, and 
Aengabha ; and their monument was called Ditrnha-Mac-Gainn, 
" the mound of the sons of Gann." Then the three sons of 
Orddan, the Firbolg Druid, next essayed to break the Danann 
columns, but were slain by the sons of Cainte ; and " the 
place where they were buried is called Dumha-na-n-Druadh" 
or " the Druid's mound." Afterwards, the cohorts of the in- 
vaders, along with Inchar and Incharba, advanced, and charged 
the BelgaB, but were withstood by Carbre, the son of Den and 
the sons of Buan, whom however they slew ; and, says the 
MS., "the leachts at which they were interred are called Leaca- 
Mac-Buain, and the grave of Cairbre lies outside their leachts 
or monuments." Could we but identify them, there are all 
round this spot sufficient monuments to choose from for these 
erections, notwithstanding centuries of cultivation, and, alas ! 
years of ruthless destruction. 

The Belgian columns were evidently driven back, and the 

2 40 


battle passed, as on the occasion of the second day's fighting, 

to the north-east. The sons of the two kings, Looe the strong, 

son of Nuad, and Slainge the fair, son of Eochy, after a fierce 

encounter slew each other. The 

grave where the Danann hero was 

buried is called Lia-Looee, and is in 

all likelihood the "long stone of The 

Neale" already referred to, and here 

figured. It is a very notable object 

at the fork of the road, to the south 

of the village, and is now 4 \ feet 

over ground. — See page 221. There 

are many traditions about Looe- 

lamh-fada, the long-handed son of 

King Nuad, still in the mouths of 

the people in this district. 

Following the track of the Da nanus during this third day's 
engagement, we approach the Parish of KlLMOLAEA, commonly 
called The Neale, but the parish church of which happens to be 
situated in the parish of Cong. Adjoining the village is The 
Neale House, the residence of Lord Baron Kilmaine, and within 
the demesne there are several monuments of much interest, al- 
though not noticed by writers. A large stone heap, now faced 
with steps, and crowned by a weathercock, contains, we be- 
lieve, in its interior the nucleus of a cairn, and may probably be 
that erected over Slainge himself. In the grounds adjoining a 



comparatively modern structure has been erected over some 
sculptured figures of considerable antiquity, although not refer- 
rible to the days of Moytura. They are placed in front of an 
ancient cave, and are popularly known as "The Gods of The 
Neale." That, however, which is of undoubted antiquity, and 
well worthy the serious attention of philologists and antiquaries, 
is a flat mass of gritstone placed in the orchard wall, and now 
nearly obscured with ivy, and of which, with the permission of 
the noble proprietor, we have been permitted to publish an 
account. It measure snearly 15 inches each way, and bears 
the inscription, in sunken letters, faithfully represented by the 
accompanying illustration, 
taken from a carefully made 
rubbing. These characters 
are perhaps the oldest let- 
ters that have yet been dis- 
covered in Ireland, and are 
evidently of greater anti- 
quity than those upon the 
Inchangoill monument. Mr. 
J. O'B. Crowe reads this de- 
notative inscription thus: — 
Lon Fecnan, Ecclesia Fecnan, the Ion, laun, place, or church, 
of Fecna (genitive Fecnan), perhaps the Fecnan of Adamnan 
or some Fechna of Mayo of the Saxons. — See Colgan's "Trias 
Thaum." page 378. Other philologists to whom it was sub- 



mitted have not as yet thrown more light upon its interpreta- 
tion. Of the antiquity of this inscribed monument there can 
be no doubt. It is said to have been brought here from the 
old church of Brefy, below Castlebar.* The mode in which 
the letters were picked out, possibly with a flint or hard sharp 
stone, is well shown in the illustration. 

The fourth day's battle drew to a close ; the flower of the 
Firbolg army was cut off; and its king, greatly fatigued, and 
far removed from the well of the Mean-uisge, and there being 
then — as there is literally now — no water in the place, was sorely 
oppressed with thirst ; so he committed the command to Sreng, 
and fled with a chosen band across the plain, from near The 
Neale in a north-western direction towards Lough Mask. The 
MS., which rather inclines to the native or Firbolg side of the 
question, relates that the Dananian Druids, hearing of the ex- 
tremity in which Eochy was placed, magically concealed all the 
wells, rivers, and fountains — probably a mist surrounded them. 

The king and his attendants were pursued by the three sons 
of Nemed Mac-Baclhrai, and 150 followers; and after a fierce 
conflict on the lake shore, which is described with great spirit, 

* On a stone built into the wall, beneath this monument, can be read the 
following inscription : — "The above stone was found at Brefy, in the Co. of 
Mayo, A. d. 1732, in a coffin, inscribed in Irish characters, the coffin of Ge- 
nan, which contained a skeleton, 12^ feet long. Genan was King of Ireland, 
a. m. 3352, P. d. 7024, a. c. 1G81 ; and this monument is erected to show the 
antiquity of the Irish character and the size of mankind in those early ages. 
a. D. 175G." The foregoing speaks for itself. 

eochy's cairn, 


and in which the king slew his three youthful assailants, he 
himself expired. " Thus fell," says the MS., " the mighty 
Eochy ! A lofty earn was raised over his body, which is to 
this day to be seen at Traigh Eothuile, and called Cam Eathach 
from his name ; and at the western extremity of that strand 
still exist the monuments of his slayers, called Leaca Mac-Ne- 
mid/i, ' the flags of the sons of Nemidh.' ' 

On the great grassy hill of Killower, or Carn, from which 
the townland takes its name — overlooking Lough Mask, from 
which it is about a mile distant, and commanding a view of 
the entire country, stands to this hour the most extensive and 
remarkable cairn in the West of Ireland — that figured below, 

and which, we entertain but little doubt, was erected to com- 
memorate the fate of Eochy Mac Ere, the last of the Firbolg 

Kings of Erin. 

u 2 


Crowning the summit of the eminence is a ditch and ram- 
part, the top of which is 2500 paces in circumference, and on 
it are still some standing stones, especially near the entrance 
on the W. N. W. side. A space twenty yards wide intervenes 
between the top of this rampart and the outer margin of the 
cairn. The tumulus undoubtedly contains central chambers, 
and a remarkable and partially open passage encircles its base. 
The view from the top is very grand ; on the extreme west 
we have Benlevi and the Partry range of mountains rising 
from the lake, with the Eeek of St. Patrick peeping over 
them ; more to the north is Nephin, the hill of Cultamaugh, 
Balla, and the country about Claremorris, and so all round 
the distant eastern end of the plain to Knockma, whence the 
eye again turns westwards to the shores of Lough Corrib. 

Between this point and The Neale, on the east, and stretch- 
ing round to Nymphsfield, on the south, the ground over 
which King Eochy fled exhibits no trace of water, and scarcely 
any vestige of early occupation. As yet the flagstones of the 
sons of Nemid have not been identified, although a ruined 
cromleach, somewhat to the south-west of our position, on the 
sloping ground above Caher Kobert, evidently mark the site 
of an ancient monument. Above these are the remains of two 
caves ; and about half a mile to the south-east of the " Cam" 
stands the remarkable square dry-stone enclosure, forty-four 
paces in width, and containing a well-built cave in the centre, 
which is called Caher Ribert, or " Robert's Fort." Its walls 


are 6 feet high, and '1\ thick ; and the western square-topped 
doorway, with its massive lintel and sloping sides, would ap- 
pear to be the type of the early Christian edifices to which 
reference has been so frequently made. It is 4 feet 10 inches 
high, 3 feet 2 inches wide at the bottom, and 2 feet 10 inches 
at top. This form of caher, although represented in Aran, 
is rather scarce, and is evidently of later date than the cir- 
cular ones. A square fort or enclosure may still be traced 
among the rocks, about half a mile to the north of Aughalard 
Castle.* Immediately at the western foot of this hill is the 
great natural and artificial cave mentioned at page 209 ; and 
nearly in the same line we see several other raths and cahers — 
Lough Mask Castle, Ballinchalla church, the ruins of Inishmain 
Abbey, and the fort and standing stones over the water's edge 
at Inishowen, already figured and described at page 227 ; 
while more to the north rises the last great battle monument, 

* In order to visit this portion of our route, the tourist, passing along 
the road from Cong by the Glebe and the cross roads to The Neale, 
reaches a site once known as Cross -Davy, where an ancient sculptured 
cross formerly stood, until removed about fifty years ago by religious fa- 
naticism, backed by legal injustice. Then, taking the northern road through 
Creevagh — Caher-Robert, Eochy's Carn, and the antiquities to be described 
in the next chapter, can be visited. The lower road from Lough Mask 
Castle into Cong will take the tourist to Aughalard, and on by the Pigeon 
Hole, to his hotel ; or carry him by the lake margin to Maam. — See the 


called Caher Bowen, and also the well of Dermod and Graine : 
and the forts in the demesne of Cushlough. 

Our accouut of the battle and battle-field of Moytura here 
closes ; both parties withdrew after the fourth day's fighting — 
the dispirited Firbolgs to their camp along Corrib shore, and 
the Dananians to their mountain fortress. Both parties inter- 
red their dead ; and it is said the former " raised Dumhas [or 
tumuli] over their nobles ; raised Leaca [or flagstones] over 
their heroes ; Ferilias [graves] over the soldiers ; and Knocs [or 
hillocks] over the champions." Sreng and the other remaining 
descendants of Gann held a war council ; and, having but 3000 
men remaining, they discussed the question of leaving the 
country in the possession of the invaders, dividing the king- 
dom, or risking another battle ; and, as they were inferior in 
numbers, they demanded single combat, and challenged the 
Dananns to fight man to man. This was refused ; but a peace 
was ratified, by which Sreng and the Firbolgs, or Belgae, re- 
tained the province of Connaught, to which those of that 
nation then resorted from all quarters, and where there is no 
doubt some remnant of that race still remains. A portion of 
the Belga3, possibly the warriors and soldiers, fled across Lough 
Corrib to the Islands of Aran ; where, perhaps dreading ano- 
ther invasion, they raised those stupendous barbaric monu- 
ments that still exist there, the wonder and admiration of 
antiquaries and historians, as they are undoubtedly the most 


extensive, as well as the oldest, structures of their kind in 

The Tuatha de Dananns elected Breas, son of Elaethan, to 
reign during the period of Nuada's convalescence, which it is 
said occupied seven years. Under A. M. 3310 we read — " This 
was the seventh year of Breas over Ireland, when he resigned 
the kingdom to Nuadhat, after the cure of his hand by Dian- 
cecht, assisted by Creidne the artificer, for they put a silver 
hand upon him ;" and in 3330, " at the end of the twentieth 
year of the reign of Nuadhat of the Silver Hand, he fell in 
the battle of Magh-Tuireadh na bh-Fomorach, by Balor of the 
mighty blows, one of the Fomorians." From this we learn that, 
according to the computed chronology, twenty-seven years 
elapsed between the first or southern and the second or north- 
ern battle of Moytura, which was fought in the parish of Kil- 
mactranny, barony of Tirerrill and county of Sligo. By many 
writers, ancient and modern, these two battles and battle-fields 
have been mixed up ; but we trust the foregoing narrative 
and topographical description will prevent further mistakes of 
this nature. 

The bare historic fact, with but few details of the great 
battle of Moytura, has been mentioned in all our annals, and is 
told in most of our ancient Irish MSS. of authority ; from which, 

* See Mr. Haverty's graphic account of the visit of the Ethnological 
section of the British Association to the Islands of Aran in 1857, which 
the author had the honour of conducting. 


however, it was here unnecessary to quote, as they do not 
enter into details, and no effort has heretofore been made to 
identify the locality. The unpublished manuscript from which 
the foregoing account has been extracted is preserved in the 
Library of Trinity College, H, 2. 17, commencing at page 291 ; 
it was transcribed at Moy-Enne, near Bally shannon, by Cor- 
mac O'Cuirnin, probably in the fifteenth century ; but the tale 
itself is referred to by Cormac Mac Cullinan, King and Bishop 
of Cashel, the most learned man of his age, when he wrote 
his celebrated Glossary, in the ninth century. The translation 
which the author had access to was that made for the Ord- 
nance Survey by the late Dr. John O'Donovan, and which is 
preserved in one of the manuscript books of the Ordnance Sur- 
vey for the county of Mayo, to which we have so frequently 
referred.* It would have exceeded the limits of this book to 
have described the battle more at length ; but an alphabetical 
list of the names of those who fought upon both sides, and 
the significant meanings of which so much resemble those of 
North American Indians, would, we think, be of some interest 
to the philologists of the present day. — See Appendix. 

* There are also other copies of the Cath-Magh-Tuireadh nearly para- 
phrastic of the foregoing, and also giving descriptions of the engagement 
at Ballisadare, or Kilmactranny, preserved in the British Museum ; and a 
copy of which, made by a son of the late Eugene O'Curry, is now in the 
Library of the Catholic University — See O'Curry's Lectures upon "The 
Manuscript Materials of Ancient Irish History," pp. 241, 250, &c. The 
British Museum manuscript was transcribed by Gilla-Riabhaeh-O'Cleary 
about the year 1460. 




The battle of southern Moytura, which we traced in a curved 
direction from the vicinity of Cong, ended, as already stated, 
on the borders of Lough Mask, and in the parish now popu- 
larly called Ballachalla, where we are at present supposed to 
stand. In the hagiologies this parish is called Cala-Locha- 
Measga ; and in the Irish, JBaile-an- Chala, "the bally or town 
of the Caladh, or 'Port of Lough Mask;' " for, although the 
term "callow" is applied, in the counties of Roscommon and 
Galway, to the holm, flat, or inch, generally subject to inunda- 
tion on the borders of a lake or river, it is here applied to 
a landing-place for boats. — See O'Donovan's letters in the 
"Ordnance Survey Book" for Mayo, page 80. 

This parish extends along the eastern border of Lough 
Mask from the parish of Cong to that of Ballinrobe, having 



Kilmolara on the east. Within it are the great tumuli of Carn 
Bowen and Killower, and also Caher-Robert, already described ; 
but we have now only to visit its lake margin. To the left 
of the road leading down to the water stand the ruins of the 

little church of Ballachalla, of no great antiquity, but still much 
used as a burial place. Continuing our route to the water's 
edge over a road formed of the natural limestone rock, which 
here rises to the surface in enormous flags — and which path 
is called Ballin-Coirp, " the road of the corpses," on their 


way to the cemetery, in the adjoining abbey of Inishmain, 
— we pass under the picturesque ruin of Lough Mask Castle, 
standing on a high scarped rock, and commanding a glorious 
prospect of the scenery to the west. 

This ancient fortified dwelling of the De Burgos, faithfully 
pictured by the foregoing illustration, is known in the annals 
by the name of the townland of Baile-Locha-Measga, in which 
it is placed. Upon a massive decorated chimney-breast ad- 
joining one of the mullioned windows is the following inscrip- 
tion :— Stomas 23obrfce • 3E|^& • 1618 • Icllcs 23btler,— 

who, no doubt, occupied, and probably restored, this struc- 
ture. It is said to have been built by one of the " English 
barons " in 1238 ; and we know that in 1338, when Edmond 
De Burgo, the ill-fated son of the Earl of Ulster, was abducted 
from the Friars' House at Ballinrobe on Low Sunday, the 
19th of April, " he was that night carried to Lough Mask 
Castle,"* which then probably belonged to Sir William Burke, 
of the Eighter or Mayo branch of that great family. 

The next night he spent in Ballindeonagh Castle, near 
Petersburgh, at the southern or lower end of the lake ; and on 
the third he was murdered at an island in that arm of the lake, 
since known as " The Earl's Island." — See page 98. His sister 

* See O'Flaherty's " West Connaught," p. 47. Lough Measg, Measca, 
or Mask, is so called from its mingling, meascadh, with the waters of Loughs 
Carra and Comb. Sir Thomas Bourke re-edified this castle after the 
battle of Kinsale, in 1602. 


and heir married Lionel, Duke of Clarence. In 1412 Brian 
O'Conor destroyed the castle of Baile-Locha-Measca by fire ; 
and in 1416, when another Edmond Burke plundered the ter- 
ritory of Mac-Feoris, round the southern end of the lake, he 
took Bermingham himself prisoner, and confined him in this 

Passing over the little stream that now divides Inishmain 
(no longer an island, but a peninsula) from the mainland, we 
approach a charming group of ruins, standing by the water's 
edge, surrounded by well-grown timber, and consisting of the 
outer castellated gateway of an abbey, and beyond it one of 
the most beautiful churches in Ireland.* Before, however, we 
enter the sacred precincts, or proceed to examine the ruins of 
Christian times, let us look back upon the early history of this 
locality. Across this and the neighbouring island to the west, 
both of which were probably always accessible in summer time, 
the Firbolgs pursued the Tuatha de Dananns, and slew the sons 
of Cailchu upon the lake shore, where their stone circle still 
remains, as already shown at page 227. It is said Eogan-Beil, 
King of Connaught, had a " palace" here in the sixth century, 
from which circumstance the western island is to this day 
called Inish-Eoghain, or Inishowen. O'Donovan, labouring 
under the impression that this stone circle, which is evidently 

* Lough Mask Castle is the property of the Earl of Erne ; the islands of 
Inishmain and Inishowen, that of Lord Baron Kilmaine ; and the great earn 
of Killower belongs to Captain Cooper. 


monumental, might have been the habitation of the old king, 
says in one of his letters, written in 1838, "The remains of 
this palace puzzles me very much, though it is not very un- 
like Dun-an-Sciath at Lough Annuinn, now Ennell. in West- 
meath." There can, however, be no doubt that it is one of 
the Moytura monuments. It is equally certain that the foun- 
dations of the ancient caher, or stone fort, of King Beil, stood 
upon the site of the abbey, and a considerable portion of its 
circle may yet be traced beyond its western end. 

From the Book of Lecan Colgan gives a translation of the 
following saintly legend, which possibly refers to the end of 
the fifth century : — 6i St. Cormac came first to the palace of 
Eugenius, surnamed Bell, son of Kellach, King of Connaught, 
who at that time dwelt in a certain fort, called afterwards from 
his name Dun-Eogan, lying in a certain lake in West Con- 
naught, which is commonly called Loch Measca. But the 
servant of God was not received with that honour due to him, 
nor with the offices of humanity. Wherefore, the saint, 
with a menacing and true prophecy, foretold what he had 
foreseen by inspiration would happen to that residence. For 
he predicted that that fort would not be hereafter the seat of 
kings, but that a domicile of the servants of Christ, and of 
monks, was to be erected in its place. The truth of this pro- 
phecy has been proved by the event ; for on that island, com- 
monly called Inis-Moedoin, in which the vestiges of that fort, 
afterwards level with the ground, are seen, a monastery was 



erected, which from that time remained the habitation of de- 
voted servants of Christ." 

The next notice of Inis Moedoin, Inishmain, or the middle 
island, which we find is in the Annals of the Four Masters un- 
der A. D. 1223, " Maelisa, the son ofTurlough O'Conor, prior 
of Inishmain, died." This ecclesiastic was the eldest of the 
three legitimate sons of the great Turlough More ; and it ap- 
pears that he embraced a religious life in his youth, and left 
his younger brothers to contend with each other for the sove- 
reignty of Connaught and the crown of Ireland. 

When, by whom, or for what order this abbey was erected, 
neither history nor tradition gives the slightest clue ; but it 
was probably built between the 
twelfth and fourteenth centuries, 
and it very likely occupies the site 
of the original church of St. Cor- 
mac, and the small square-headed .^ 
doorway of which is in all proba- f 
bility that by which the nave of 
the church was entered from the 
northern side, although it may 
have been carried there from its 
original locality in the west gable 
of the saint's Daimlaght. This door- 
way, here figured, is' quite incongruous in either period or ar- 
chitecture, with the noble, highly-decorated structure in which 



it is placed. There is no arch above it. Whoever built Inish- 
main exhibited great taste, as well as skill, and, possibly in 
pious remembrance of the prophecy of St. Cormac, preserved 
this portion of his church, which was very likely all that re- 
mained of it when the more modern building was commenced. 
The entire length of this great church is 62 feet, the breadth of 
the nave is 21 J feet, the chancel is 20 feet by 15. Its arch no 
longer exists ; but, the grand cluster of pillars that still re- 
main upon the southern side, show that it must have been of 
great beauty and vast size, as may be seen by this illustration. 

Fortunately that great Irish church preserver, the Hedera Hi- 
bernica, has long since thrown its arms around this beauteous 



ruin, or a single stone of Inishmain Abbey would no longer 
stand upon another. The capitals of 
these pillars are decorated with floral 
embellishments such as that here ex- 
hibited, which somewhat resembles 
those of Cong and Athenry, with 
which it was probably coeval. Upon 
each side of the narrowed chancel there 
is a square structure, 16 feet by 12^, 
apparently more for domestic than 
ecclesiastical uses. The east window 
consists of two narrow circular-headed 
lights, the outer mouldings both upon the inside and the out- 
side of which terminate in well-carved grotesque figures ; the 
square doorway on the northern side ; and a breach into one 
of the side structures, previously alluded to, are well shown in 
the foregoing illustration. If this was indeed an abbey, it pro- 
bably belonged to the Augustinians, and was dependent on that 
of Gong. 

Among the rocks, a little to the west of the ecclesiastical 
enclosure, there still exist the remains of an ancient circular 
fort, the walls of which, although frequently repaired, as it is 
used occasionally for a sheep pen, are so characteristic of the 
ancient mode of building, and so like those seen in similar 
structures in Aran, that the following sketch is inserted. It 
was probably one of the outworks of King Bid's fortress. If 



the intermediate masonry were removed, these long upright 
stones would present what is termed a Druidical circle 

Passing westwards from Inishmain church by the stone en- 
closure figured above, the author last year discovered, among 
the limestone rocks that slope towards the lake, a very cu- 
rious structure, of which the illustration on the following page 
is a graphic representation. It is a square unmortared build- 
ino-, 12J feet high, and 15 feet wide, with a set-off 7-|- feet from 
the ground ; and, with the exception of the crypts on the west 
face, as shown in the cut, is perfectly solid, and formed of 
undressed stone. 

These crypts are certainly the most remarkable and in- 
explicable structures that have yet been discovered in Ireland. 
At top they are formed somewhat like the roof of a high- 
pitched Gothic church, with long stone ribs or rafters abutting 




upon a low side wall, and meeting each other at top, as shown 
in the accompanying engravings. The intervals between these 

sloping stones, some of which are 4 feet long, are filled up with 
layers of stone laid horizontally. The illustration upon the op- 
posite page, taken from the inside of the northern crypt, gives a 
fair representation of this roofing, above and around which the 
entire structure seems to be a solid mass of stone work. The 
flooring is also composed of narrow stone joists placed a few 
inches apart, so that air can come up between them, and the 
partition between the crypts is so thin, that, although not per- 
vious to light, conversation can be kept up between them. 
Each is on an average 5 feet high throughout, and about 
3 wide ; there arc five stone ribs or rafters in the roof of the 


The east wall alone of this grand revelling chamber is 
standing. Under it flowed the Drimneen, covered by a na- 
tural arch, which having given way, all the western side was 
precipitated into the abyss below ; where, no doubt, if exca- 
vations were made, many of its sculptured stones would be 

The De Burgos claim the erection or re-edification of this 
castle ; but, besides all other probabilities as to its being origi- 
nally built by, as it was undoubtedly occupied by, the O'Fla- 
hertys in the sixteenth century — when in all likelihood the 
bulk of the present structure was erected — we learn from va- 
rious sources that the latter occupied this district uninterrupt- 
edly from the eleventh century till almost the present time. 
In the records relating to this family will be found the best ac- 
count, as well as the last remnant, of the feudal or clan sys- 
tem in Ireland ; when The O'Flaherty, besides the various petty 
chieftains dependent on him, had his allotted body guard, co- 
morbs, physicians, equerries, and brehons, as well as his stand- 
ard bearer, guardian of reliques, poet, historian, genealogist, 
master of the revels, steward, keeper of the bees, and collec- 
tor of revenues, &c. ; whose names, and the townlands allotted 
for their services, were enumerated in the twelfth century.* 
One of the last notices of this fortress is that given under 

* See the Annals of the Four Masters ; but particularly Hardiman's notes 
to O'Flaherty's " History of West Connaught," already frequently referred 
to ; also, Petrie in the " Irish Penny Journal" for 4th Jul}', 1840. 

U 2 


the year 1572, in which Sir Edward Phiton [Fitton], President 
of Connaught, " after having half destroyed the castle, took 
complete possession of it, and left such part of it as remained 
undestroyed to Murrough-na-Dtuagh O'Flaherty." 

Part of Kilcummin parish stretches still further eastwards 
along the lake shore, which it separates from the parish of Kil- 
nin, until the latter divides it from Moycullen, near the ferry 
of Knock, already described at page 86. Retracing our steps, 
and regaining the Galway road, we again proceed eastward by 
Killeroon church, near which there is a granite boulder with a 
bullaun excavated in it ; and then by the standing stones* of Lact- 

* Mr. and Mrs. S. C. Hall, in their " Ireland, its Scenery, Character, 
&c.," say that, when within a few miles of Oughterard, " our astonishment 
was excited by perceiving a prodigious collection of Cromleachs, of the ex- 
istence of which we believe no traveller has taken note, but which certainly 
demand extensive and minute attention. These huge circles of stone 
were so numerous, that at first we imagined them to be merely accidental 
occurrences in the rocky soil ; but repeated examinations convinced us, 
that they were as much artificial erections as any of the monuments of 
which we have encountered so many in various parts of the country." 
They also fix the site of " this great city of the Druids" as being 
near the old road at this point, and say, " It occupies the whole of an 
extended plain on the height of a steep hill, and in the valley beneath 
is seen the old Castle of Aughnanure," of which latter magnificent for- 
tress they take no further notice, except by a short extract in a note from 
the " Irish [not the Dublin] Penny Journal." The authors go on to say, 
" The space literally covered by these Druidic stones, of all shapes and sizes, 
extends for above two miles, and we imagine it would not be difficult to 
count a thousand of them. The circles were of varied sizes, some very 


gannon, already referred to, into the parish of KlLLANNlN, which 
derives its name from Saint Annin, V., whose well and church 
stand by the northern margin of Ross Lake, below the main 
road. Upon the right of the highway is the small sheet of water 
called Lough Naneevin, the little wooded island upon which 
is believed to have been artificially enlarged, and fortified into 
a crannoge * The next object of note occurring in succession 

small, in others so large as apparently to be half a mile in circumference ; 
and although in most instances the props which supported the huge 
rock had crumbled under its weight, sufficient proofs of their former exist- 
ence were left in nearly every case." — See vol. iii., p. 466. It would be great 
injustice to Ireland, and to the tourist or reader who has accompanied us 
thus far round the shores of Lough Corrib, if we omitted to direct attention 
to, and, if it existed, to describe this wonderful place ; but we fear our 
distinguished friends either saw it in the gloaming, or were imposed upon 
by some psewcfo-antiquary ; and indeed their concluding words lead us 
to believe that they did not pay sufficient attention to this locality; for 
they say, " Our leisure did not permit us to make a very minute scrutiny 
of this truly wonderful place; but our brief note of it may, and no doubt 
will, induce such an examination of it as it undoubtedly demands." There 
are no cromleachs, and the only remains of stone circles in this district are 
those at Laghtgannon, referred to at p. 286. In one of these there are still 
seven standing stones, and the site of ten others is visible in the vicinity. 
There was also one formerly on the glebe, but an agricultural incumbent 
had it removed. All these forts are marked on the 6-inch Ordnance Map. 
* See Mr. Kinahan's paper on this subject in the Proceedings of the 
Royal Irish Academy, vol. x., p. 25. We have not availed ourselves of the 
author's illustration ; for, although we were the first to describe these la- 
custrine habitations in Ireland, so early as 1842, and have since examined 
and described a great number of them, we have not yet seen any grounds 
for believing in the " ideal sketch" just published by our friend. The onlv 

294 st. brecan's church. 

along the main road is the extensive, well-wooded, and pictu- 
resque demesne of Ross, the property of James Martin, Esq., 
on the northern or left hand side, with the pretty lake an- 
ciently called Lough Lonan, in an island of which there are 
still some vestiges of the old castle of Ohery. 

A short distance from Lough Naneevin, and upon our right, 
nearly opposite the gate of Koss, embosomed in a thick foliage 
of trees, stands Teampull-Brecan, the small very early mission- 
ary " church of St. Brecan," which had, no doubt, originally a 
square-headed Cyclopean doorway in the western gable, and is 
especially remarkable for its small circular-headed window in 
the eastern gable, 42 inches high, and 21 wide, with the arch 
formed of a single stone, like that at Killarsagh, and which 
affords evidence of its great antiquity. This gable is 17 feet 
wide. About 40 yards westwards of this church lies a double 
bullaun, or ancient stone font, such as those described at pages 
148, 164, 296, and 303, &c. From this by the main road to 
Galway, as we pass into the parish of Moycullen, for some 
distance, there is no object of antiquarian interest, until we 
reach the little ruined church of Kilcallan, in the demesne of 
Knockbane, the property and handsome residence of the late 
Anthony O'Flaherty, Esq., formerly M. P. for Galway town. 
This church, which stands within the enclosure of an ancient 

well-established crannoge in the neighbourhood of Lough Corrib is that 

upon Lough Kirabe, near the high road between Shrule and Tuara See the 

author's Catalogue of Antiquities in Royal Irish Academy, part i., p. 230. 


fort, is 34 feet long, and 18 broad, but possesses no feature of 
interest worthy the attention of the tourist. 

The parish of Killannin, still under our consideration, is, 
as already stated, of a most irregular form, having appertain- 
ing to it the island of Inchmicatreer, ten miles distant, upon 
Lough Corrib. It lies between Moycullen on the east, and 
Kilcummin on the west, and has a narrow stripe of that parish, 
and a portion of the lake shore on its northern margin, while 
its south-western extremity extends to the sea. The ancient 
territory of Gnobeg stretching eastward along Lough Corrib 
from the north-western end of Ross Lake, through this parish, 
and including those of Moycullen and Rahoon, to the town of 
Galway, presents several objects of great interest to the north 
of the main road. 

Passing down along a by-road between Lough Xaneevin 
and St. Brecan's church, behind Ross demesne, to the Roman 
Catholic chapel of Killannin, which occupies a conspicuous 
position on a bluff esker, running nearly east and west, we 
reach a group of ruins well worthy of inspection. Upon a 
knoll in a green field upon our right, and surrounded by 
thorn bushes, is the very ancient cell, or miniature church, of 
Teampull-beg-na-Neave, "the little church of the saint," probably 
St. Annin, whose memory is still venerated here ; and whose 
well, which remains by the shore of Lough Lonan, is resorted 
to on her festival day, the 18th of January. This diminutive 
building measures on the outside 20 feet 4 inches by 16 feet 



4 inches. The eastern gable has fallen below the level of any 
window which may have existed there, and the side walls are 
also much dilapidated ; but its western gable is still preserved, 
and marks the style and age of this structure. 

The accompanying graphic and accurate illustration, from 
a drawing by Dr. K. Willis, shows every stone in the western 
face of this gable, with its square-headed doorway, which lat- 
ter is 5 feet 6 inches high, and measures 24 inches wide at 
bottom, and 21^ at top — so as to give the usual incline to the 

jambs. These arc 2 feet 3 inches thick, and the stones forming 
their inner sides are the only ones in the church which show 
any signs of dressing, — and they were probably rubbed flat. 
In a clump of bushes a little to the south-east of this church 
may be seen a very perfect bidlmtn, u bason stone," or rude 


font, similar to those already described in several other locali- 
ties, and referred to at page 294. 

Still more to the south-east, and romantically situated among 
massive rocks and boulders, in the midst of an ancient and 
well-filled graveyard, stands the ruined, but comparatively mo- 
dern church of Killannin (or, as it is sometimes spelled, Killan- 
nin) ; but, with the exception of the pointed-arched doorway 
in the southern wall, the small eastern light, and the fact 
that it is not placed due east and west like its earlier sister just 
described, but runs W. N. W by E.S.E., it possesses no inte- 
rest for the antiquary. It is 48 feet 4 inches long, and 24J feet 
broad from out to out ; and, with the exception of the door and 
window, is altogether constructed of large undressed stones. 
Adjoining the southern side is the mortuary chapel of the 
Martins, of a later date, and more carefully built than the 
church ; it contains the massive vault of some of the members 
of this once powerful family. This tomb is now open to the 
winds, and occasionally a receptacle for some of the neigh- 
bouring stock ; and, although not a whited sepulchre without, 
it is perfectly congruous with the scriptural simile within. The 
present time, in which we are labouring to revive the archi- 
tecture as well as the opinions of our ancestors, is specially 
characterized by a want of reverence for the remains of the 
dead. From an inscription over this mausoleum we learn that 
it was erected for Anthony Martin, Fitz Richard, of Dangan, in 
1748. Much of the surrounding district — over which this tribe 


reigned supreme, and against whose misgovernment so many 
eloquent appeals were made in Parliament, and such withering 
philippics were hurled by newspaper commissioners — remains, 
as already stated at page 279, in the same, if not a worse con- 
dition than when the last of the Martin line fled an outcast 
from her country, and died in poverty.* We have no desire 
to digress for the purpose of again inquiring into the condition 
of the " Law Life Estates," which here, as in other portions 
of our route, surround us ; but we would, for the sake of the 
country, suggest to those who profess an interest in " tenant 
right," and such like matters, to take up the reports of Nimmo 
and Killally, written nearly fifty years ago, at the instance of 
Kichard and Thomas Martin, of Ballinahinch, and with these, 
and the Reports of the Commissioners, and the leading articles 
upon the subject, in the days of O'Connell, in their hands, to 
make an examination of the present condition of this vast pro- 
perty, when, perhaps, they may find, that — although it was 
bought exceedingly cheap, at a time when Irish property was 
pressed into the market at a third less than its value — no 
portion of Ireland of the same extent has made less progress 
than the Ballinahinch estates during the last twenty years. 

Passing over the esker by the chapel, we obtain a view 
of an extensive limestone ridge that slopes to the lake, grey, 
bare, and almost verdureless, except where the stunted nut 

* See Sir Bernard Burke's " Princess of Connamara," in his " Vicis- 
situdes of Families," page 65. 



trees rise out of clefts in the rocks ; but which, there is every 
reason to believe, was once covered with a portion of the great 
yew forest already alluded to at page 287, and from which the 
not far distant Castle of Aughnanure, "the field of the yews," 
derived its name. The 
neighbouring townland of 
Kylemore, "the great 
wood," naturally calls at- 
tention to the spot ; but 
we have something more 
than topographical nomen- 
clature or tradition to guide 
us in searching for the re- 
mains of this ancient fo- 
rest ; for around us may 
still be seen the withered 
stumps or roots of no less 
than twelve of the ancient 
yews of Gnomore and Gno- 
beg; — and two of these, 
about half a mile to the 
north of the chapel, claim special attention. Passing down the 
road towards Lough Corrib, through this barren, grey-coloured 
rocky region, without a house, or beast, or living thing to claim 
attention, the eye falls on a lone, grey, tall, spectre-like object, 
standing in the midst of a large field of limestone ; and on ap- 
proaching it we find it to be the bare knobby stump of an 


ancient yew tree, here figured from a drawing by Mr. Kina- 
han, to whom we are indebted for having first directed our 
attention to this most interesting vestige of the oldest forest 
in Ireland now over ground. It is 10 feet high, and 9 feet 
9 inches in girth ; and its snake-like roots spreading far and 
wide on all sides, crawl into the smallest crevices of the crags, 

" Moor'd in the rifted rock, 
Proof to the tempest's shock," 

it broadly grew, and gaily bourgeoned, when the world was 
many centuries younger than it is now. Standing with our 
back to the mountains, and viewing this lone withered tree 
upon that inhospitable tract, a scene of greater desolation can 
scarcely be imagined. Hundreds of years must have elapsed 
since this sylvan monarch spread its green arms abroad ; and, 
although not absolutely fossilized, it is at present so hard that 
it is almost impossible to make an impression upon it with an 
edged tool, and it is with great difficulty that any portion of 
it can be hammered off. The outer surface of the lower por- 
tion of this tree is covered with sharp, prickly projections, 
apparently the remains of a late superficial vegetation, after the 
top had withered, and which contrasts forcibly with the beau- 
tiful smooth honest bark that has so long rendered the Irish 
Palm an object of sacred interest, and caused it to be used 
in the manufacture of our ancient croziers, shrines, and relics. 
The yew is not only one of the most beautiful, but longest- 
lived, of the indigenous trees of Ireland ; and, as in life, so in 


death, it aims at immortality — shading with its wide-spread- 
ing green arms the grave of the young and innocent in the 
lone churchyard ; — raising its tall stem in the centre of the an- 
cient cloister ; commemorating (owing to the similarity of its 
pinnate leaves with those of the Oriental palm) the day when 
Jerusalem's walls beheld the procession from the Mount of 
Olives ; for all which, and for the reasons already specified, 
the Irish yew possesses special attractions for our people.* A 
specimen of about the same size, but hollow near the bottom, 
stands in the adjacent mearing wall to the west of this field ; 
and the remnants of ten others lie scattered throughout the 
townlands of Corraneilstrum and Kylemoie — while, no doubt, 
others may yet be discovered. 

Continuing our route along this lower road by the north 
and east of Lough Lonan, we re-enter MoYCULLEN parish; and, 
obtaining a view of the picturesque wooded island, upon which 
some remains may still be observed of Ohery, the old castle 

* Upon the age to which the yew will grow under favourable circum- 
stances it is almost impossible to speculate. The great yew tree still living 
at Clontarf is believed to be as old as the battle fought there in 1013. 
Hundreds of massive trunks of yews lie buried beneath our bogs ; and the 
late James Mackay, Curator of the Botanic Garden, T. C. D., at the Meet- 
ing of the British Association held in Dublin, in 1835, produced a section 
of one, from the concentric rings of which he showed that it must have 
lived at least a thousand years. — See also the author's description of the 
Dragon Tree of Oratava, and other aged trees, in his li Narrative of a 
Voyage to Madeira and Teneriffe," &c, 2nd Edition, p. 109. 


of the O'Hallorans, who were driven out in 1587, we ajjain 

7 ' o 

reach the main road to Galway, near Deerfield, at present oc- 
cupied by the Rev. Francis Kenny, the Parish Priest of Moy- 
cullen. Thence, with Drimcong and Loughs Hemusmaconry, 
Arrobaun, Pollahy, and Down, on our left, we proceed through 
the shaded road of Danesfield, the beautifully-situated residence 
of George Burke, Esq. ; and so on to the little village of Moy- 
cullen, which, together with a large district of the adjacent 
country, originally part of the Barna estate, is now the pro- 
perty of Lord Campbell. 

At this celebrated locality, Magh- Uillin, the plain on which 
was slain the warrior Uillin, as already described at page 20, 
from whence has been derived the name of this extensive ba- 
rony and parish — and which, besides its ancient history, is 
memorable for having been the residence of Roderick O'Fla- 
herty, the historian of " West Connaught," and in later times 
as the scene of Lady Morgan's clever novel of " The O'Briens 
and O'Flahertys" — we must rest, and make a few detours to 
the right and left of the village. The cross roads here lead, 
on the south, to Spiddle, and, on the north, to the ferry of 
Knock, already described at page 85. Passing up the former, 
tw T o objects of note claim our attention : the first of these, 
nearly due south of Moycullen, and about a mile east of this 
road, upon the hill of Killagoola, is the ruin of Team pull- Eany, 
the " church of St. Eany," which is 24 feet long by 12 broad, 
having a remarkable projecting stone at the south-west angle, 


like that referred to at Inchangoill, and in the church of Clo- 
niff; there are some remains of a chancel arch, and the doorway 
was in the western gable. About 30 yards to the west of 
this church is a double bidlaun, cut in a rock, and called the 
kneeling stone, or Gluine Phadrig, " St. Patrick's knees," from 
a belief that our early missionary prayed here, and left these 
impressions upon the stone. It is held in great veneration, and 
stations are still performed there ; and, as these bason-like in- 
dentations are believed never to be devoid of water, it is con- 
sidered an infallible cure for sore eyes. There is also here a 
holy well, walled, and draped with ivy, which is also held in 
veneration. Still further to the south, at Pollnaclogha, about 
three miles from Moycullen, there are some rocks worthy of ex- 
amination, as it is supposed that there are characters engraved 
upon them ; but these, it is possible, may be only veins of 
quartz. There are also traditions attached to this locality worthy 
of investigation. 

Upon the northern " cast," between the main road and the 
lake, as we proceed downwards towards Tullokian, figured and 
described at page 62, and Knock Ferry, by the west of Ballin- 
quirk Lake, we have the little church of Moycullen upon our 
right, of which the side walls and gable still remain ; but, 
except the pointed-arched doorway on the northern side, and 
one small narrow light in the eastern gable, it possesses no 
features of either antiquarian or architectural interest. Of this 
parochial church says O'Flaherty, in 1684, "its chief feast of 


late is the Immaculate Conception of our Blessed Lady, on 
the 8th of December, as patroness. What ancient patron it 
had is unknown." 

" Here Uillinn, grandchild of Nuad Silverhand, King of 
Ireland, 1200 years before Christ's birth, overthrew in battle, 
and had the killing of, Orbsen Mac Alloid, commonly called 
Mananan Mac Lir, Mananan the Mankish man, Mac Lir, son 
of the sea, for his skill in seafaring. From Ullin, Moycullen is 
named ; to wit, Magh-Ullin, the field of Ullin ; and from Orb- 
sen, Lough Orbsen, or the Lake of Orbsen. Six miles from 
a great stone in that field (erected perhaps in memory of the 
same battle) to the town of Galway."* Continuing our route 
towards Bally dotia, " the burned village," we enter the town- 
land of Leagaun ; and in a furze field to our right, not far from 
the old road between Oughterard and Galway, from which lat- 
ter this spot is about " six miles" distant, may still be seen 
what there is every reason to believe is the stone that marks 

* "West Connaught," p. 55. —See also OTlaherty's " Ogygia." In 
Cormac's very ancient Glossary we read thus of the navigator " Manann-an 
Mac Lir, a famous merchant, who was in the Isle of Mann. He was the 
best navigator in the west of the world. He used to discover by obser- 
vation of the heavens when there would be good or bad weather, and when 
either would change by the moon. Hence the Scoti and Britons used to 
call him the God of the Sea, and they said that he was the son of the sea. 
From him the Isle ofManann is named." — See O'Donovan's translation in 
the " Ordnance Letters from Galway, 1839," vol. iii., p. 159 — See also an 
article on the subject of Mananan Mac Lir, by Mr. Brash, in the " Archa?o- 
logia Cambrensis" for April, I860. 


the precise locality where Orbsen M'Alloid was slain by Uillin ; 
although Hardiman, in his notes to the " Iar-Connaught," stated 
that it had not been identified, and that "no person in the 
district ever heard of such a monument." This large limestone 
flag, which was prostrated by the storm of 1839, and which 
measures 12 1 . - by 1\ wide, and is 13 inches thick, 

is undoubtedly that reared to by O'Flaherty. It is called 
Clougli-more Legaun, " the great stone of Legaun," by the pea- 
santry, who regard it as a " Fairy monument," under which 
the warriors of the olden time were buried. The vast and 
beautiful view commanded from this spot is, perhaps, the finest 
prospect of the flat country eastward of Lough Orbsen, com- 
prising the distant hills of Clare, a large extent of the lake 
and the district from Clare-Galway to Knockma — while to the 
west, the mountain scenery possesses an unusual diversity of 

Skirting the northern and eastern margins of Ballyquirk 
Lake,* which is to the left of the Galway road, and passing 
by Patrick's Well, we alight upon the ruins of Teampull-beg, 
the " little church," in the townland of Clooniff, which is 
the last ruin that claims our attention. It partakes of the 
early daimlaig form — is 24 feet long by 12^ broad, and has a 
small chancel at the western end. The walls are now about 

* A canal carries off the surplus waters of Ballyquirk, and the small 
lakes to the west of it ; but those of Ross Lake filter under ground, and 
do not, as stated at page 24, pass through that Canal. 



12 feet high, and at the south-western angle a long stone pro- 
jects from the gable, like those at Inchangoill and Teampull 
Eany. A little distance to the north of it there is a bullawn 
stone, also called Gluine Phadrig. 

Once more getting upon the main road, we proceed through 
the parish of Rahoon to Gal way, and here we make our bow, 
and take our leave. Our task is done. We have endeavoured 
to direct the attention of the reader and the tourist to all that 
is historic, picturesque, and beautiful in this grand Lough Cor- 
rib region, with its sacred islands, its ancient battle grounds, 
raths, and tumuli ; its splendid ruins of castle and abbey, con- 
trasted with the results of modern civilization ; its magnificent 
scenery of mountain and lake, with the ever-changing lights 
on the purple hills, and the glorious sunsets peculiar to the 
West — scenes so full of interest for the antiquary, the his- 
torian, the poet and the painter, the politician and social eco- 
nomist — for all who love nature and truth, and like to study 
national life through its various phases. We have also tried to 
direct attention to those vast sources of wealth which still lie 
unutilized in the West; and if, while interesting the tourist, 
we have also stimulated the work of national progress, the 
chief objects shall have been accomplished for which this 
book was undertaken— to illustrate the past, and to benefit 
the present. 



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